The Vice and Virtue Ministry
Since Blur’s great mid-‘90s trilogy, there’s been a severe lack of albums dealing with grandiose pop indictments of modern society. Welcome Happy Bullets, who pick up right where Parklife’s rollicking burlesque stomp left off, and eschews the plastic, over-processed sound of its successor, The Great Escape. After brit-pop waned and eventually transformed into the fey, dour brit-rock we’re currently left with, it’s nice to hear the kitchen-sink instrumentation again – and more importantly, a sense of humor in the songwriting. How many other non-Decemberists bands could make a song extolling the virtues of maintaining weights and measures work (“Weights and Measures”)? Or write lyrics like “thumb our noses at the lower classes in penny seats” (“The Vice and Virtue Ministry”)? Nevermind that Happy Bullets are from the very un-British part of the world know as Texas, and ignore that one of their singers occasionally becomes a dead ringer for R.E.M.’s Mike Mills, and this disc becomes the best British Invasion album so far this year.