Bugeye have long been favourites at Joyzine. They have been featured on the podcast, we’ve premiered a video and there was also a stellar lockdown performance at the online Balcony Festival in aid of Refuge on 25 April this year. They are favourites for two great reasons: they are top people and they make cracking music, so it’s with great joy that we now have Ready, Steady, Bang in the world. It’s released on independent label Reckless Yes Records and produced by Paul Tipler (Idlewild, Elastica). Just like their 4 on the floor sensibilities Bugeye are the fantastic four of Angela Martin, guitar and vocals, Grace Healey, keyboard, Kerrie Smith, drums and Paula Snow, bass.
Self-proclaimed Disco-punks, Bugeye have packed the cupboards of Ready, Steady, Bang with huge choruses, funky bass lines, siren-synths, and guitars so fuzzy they obviously haven’t had a haircut since lockdown began. It begins with a bang as ‘On and On’ throws everything into the mix, building from synth-bass, hi-hat and voice to arpeggios and the classic disco ‘dum-bah, dum-bah, dum-bah, dum-bah’ bass line, and then when you’re not paying attention the guitar smacks you upside your head and in the daze you hear the ominously sing-song line “I’m scared of dying”. ‘Breakdown’ brings a punctured pop song with drums marking fractured sections with lines about breakdowns, meltdowns and whether the song’s muse ever really cared and then there’s a big Bugeye chorus which temporarily rights the ship before the drums set it off balance again. Bugeye can switch between a ghost train ride of Siouxse & The Banshees proportions on songs like ‘Shake and Bake’ to the flexing-sinew, slow pace of ‘Blue Fire’ with laconic bass underpinning siren guitar and Farfisa-sounding organ or they can bust out giant whirligig songs like ‘When The Lights Go Out’, with its light and dark sections that shoot you into the atmosphere and then crash you to the ground, or the stand-out tracks like ‘Electric’ (played during their Balcony Festival set) with its fireball chorus and ‘Don’t Stop’ the album’s closer which creates a heady gumbo of power chords and paranoia which has me reaching for the bread so I can mop every tasty morsel of this album. And running through all of the tracks, like a titanium backbone, are the drums which mix brute force, elegance and finesse in such a way that without this intuitive playing the album would be much diminished.
Bugeye have said that this album was driven by the change in climate (political and environmental) and “personal demons demanding their pound of flesh” which led to a kind of frustration that, in the right hands, can be moulded into musical gold. They have created a sublime distillation of their anger, a kind of single-malt pop-funk. There are a plethora of great, in-your-face bands, screaming their noise fury into the hurricane, but sometimes you get more with honey than with vinegar and Bugeye keep one foot firmly in exuberance. It’s been said that a novel is a mirror walking down the road but the world this album reflects comes from the fragmented glass of a glitterball.
Review by Paul F Cook