Bis - Data Panik etcetera (4 stars)

A compilation of released and unreleased material that indicates a band steeped in a love of pop

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Bis - Data Panik etcetera

With the original trio’s members off enjoying careers in hospitality, motherhood and being in Debukas, this is sadly not the comeback Bis album the word is arguably not waiting for, but which many of us would be very pleased to see. Nor is it a proper Greatest Hits pulled from the three albums they released between 1997 and 2001. Instead it’s somewhere in between: a compilation of released and unreleased material created together following their split in 2003, bringing the on-record Bis story up to date in line with their sporadic live reunions.

The first roughly half of the record compiles almost everything they recorded as the short-lived quintet Data Panik alongside members of Multiplies and Kenickie circa 2005/06, and it’s as good as anything they ever did. ‘Control the Radical’ is pitched in the previously unexplored middle ground between Ash’s spiky punk-pop and Gang of Four’s turbulent agit-prop, featuring some lovely synth lines towards its finale, while ‘Minimum Wage’ bristles with a beautiful kind of impudence you rarely hear in pop these days (‘drink and drugs on a minimum wage … as least we won’t die alone’). ‘Rulers and the States’ is a sloganeering, Devo-like electro thrash, and ‘Cubis (I Love You)’ is majestic, a fusion of Nile Rodgers-produced Duran Duran and Magazine. These comparisons come too easily with a band so obviously steeped in a love and knowledge of pop.

The rest of the album is drawn from abortive sessions recorded since then for a prospective fourth Bis offering, and while this half-compilation, half-lost album make-up sounds like it should be bitty and half-baked, the record stands up well in its own right. In fact, in some of the tracks above and others, like the irresistible Liquid Liquid-meets-Chic funk of ‘Music Lovers’ and the disco-house party anthem ‘That Love Ain’t Justified’, it contains some of the most mature and exciting work of the band’s career.

Released via Do Yourself In on Mon 5 May.

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