Future Bible Heroes
I think I could come to love the Future Bible Heroes’ song “A Thousand Lovers in One Day.” This detached, chilling and restrained track made me think wistfully of what collaboration between Kirsty MacColl (bless her) and Brian Eno might have sounded like (which is, in itself, a wonderful idea). Unfortunately, it=EDs the peak of the songs here, and none of the others inspire such comparison.
Now, it may be that these songs aren’t supposed to be that sophisticated. They’re “indie” and likely to remain “underground.” I’m aware that Stephen Merritt (also of The Magnetic Fields and other bands) is a widely acclaimed songwriter, but I’m not familiar enough with his previous work to know whether this is a prime example.
I’m sorry to have to say this, both because Future Bible Hero Chris Ewen is a former member of the underrated Figures On a Beach, and because this group is working in one of my favorite styles (synth-pop). But musically, this sounds to me like the ideas Jean Michel Jarre and Yaz had back in the day, kept warm by Electronic, and played most powerfully recently by Venus Hum. The lyrics are sub-Stephen Schwartz (“I would rather rub the hair of a bear in her lair…”)
Claudia Gonson’s vocals aren’t distinctive enough to attract much comment; the best synth-pop artists depend a lot on their singer to add a breath of humanity to material that can sometimes sound all-too perfect in it’s sheen. Gonson is adequate, but Allison Moyet has nothing to worry about.
Eternal Youth sounds like nothing more than a collection of synthetic Doctor Who score and sound effects, circa 1983, turned into would-be pop songs. Which is, in itself, a wonderful idea. But while this is definitely synth, it isn’t much in the way of pop. I’m working from Neil Finn’s secondary definition of pop music, by the way (the first being, basically, music that is popular), from the book Behind The Muse. “An appreciation of simple, elegant melodies over interesting chords.” Here in P. Diddy’s world, Future Bible Heroes are unlikely to meet the first definition. And their melodies are too average, their chords too overly familiar, to live up to the second.
PS: Maybe this isn’t a terribly indie idea, but I would be curious to hear some good dance mixes of this material. At the very least, “The World is a Disco Ball” is a song crying out for that kind of treatment.