Highlights: Something’s Rotten In The Back Of Iceland, RSVP, Fix It So She Dreams Of Me, Rock And Roll Is Full Of Bad Wools
One of the very few c-86 bands that are still active (and going strong, too), Half Man Half Biscuit have long entered the phase when they can just keep churning out their well-written, anthemic punk and pub rock singalongs and not think about anything else. 90 Bisodol is clearly their safe phase. And for the fans of the band, they are as thrilling and smart and hilarious as ever.
Basically, 90 Bisodol is a continuation of the Achtung Bono sound. Driving, verbose, folked-up punk with witty lyrics and infectious melodies. “Something’s Rotten…” is a near ideal opener, classic HMHB in their irresistibly tuneful swagger. Elsewhere, there are some brilliantly bitter acoustically strummed ballads (“RSVP” could be their loveliest ever; “Fix It So She Dreams Of Me” sounds a lot like “Joy Division Oven Gloves”, yet how can you resist), but it’s the closing ominous groove of “Rock And Roll Is Full Of Bad Wools” that sounds particularly impressive. Terrific piece of spite and sarcasm.
The sad news is that 90 Bisodol is still somewhat derivative. There are songs here that sound too safe, too familiar (hence a mere high seven). But in the midst of these addictive grooves and clever lines, you do more or less get what you want. Half Man Half Biscuit still offer you a fine and effortless mix of masculine loveliness and punkish literacy.