#HMHB's 90 Bisodol (Crimond) - a review

So this weekend, Half Man Half Biscuit, one of my favourite bands (full stop) released their new album, 90 Bisodol (Crimond).

So it is up to snuff? Does it do justice to all which has passed before? Can it, in fact, match up to the previous work of the lads that shook the Wirral?

I think, having listened to it for a full day, that the answer can really only be a yes.

We got a sneak preview of the album last year when the lads did a 6Music session featuring L'Enfer C'est Les Autres, Tommy Walsh's Eco House, RSVP and Left Lyrics In The Practice Room. The promise was clear then, even with mispronounced lyrics which sparked much talk over at the Lyrics Project.

What is absolutely clear is that Nigel has reached new heights of dark cynicism on this one, increasing the bodycount of the oeuvre exponentially. To death, drunkenness, desperate poverty, diabolical dealings, incest, murder and abandonment, we can now add exhumation and necrophilia, as Excavating Rita channels Evil Gazebo in a serious decline, by way of Shimano Ultegra and worms in the shoes. RSVP looks on dispassionately as a wedding feast succumbs to a deadly banquet engineered by a jilted caterer. The Coroner's Footnote - the album's obligatory I, IV, V Paradise Lost clone - takes us to a station at which a lovelorn drama ends in a mess on the line and one traumatised driver. Tommy Walsh's Eco House includes a severed head which should have been dissolved in acid a-la Hague and a life coach who should perhaps have not driven that day. Later in the album, Jim Beglin is bricked up with the acolytes of omnipresent annoying styletwat Gok Wan. It would be darkly disturbing were it not laced with the antifreeze of cynical humour.

Robert Johnson's Crossroads was of the literal kind. Eric Clapton's was more figurative. Nigel's is merely worrying, as Descent of the Stiperstones takes Climie Fisher's descent into madness to the actress who played Glenda in the soap of that most rock-and-roll of names. The album is also educational. I had no idea what Korfball was until yesterday, but now I do. It's also relevant to modern life, L'Enfer C'est Les Autres taking on the modern scourge of nauseating couples taking up the whole footpath and a Fun Day In The Park being spoiled by council lies. As usual.

The high points, though, are the opening track Something's Rotten in the Back of Iceland, L'Enfer C'est Les Autres (though the track pops and fizzes slightly more on the 6music session), and Fix It So She Dreams of Me, my personal pick of the tracklist. When Chesil Beach came up, I shouted out with joy. RSVP is a standout story, but I'm in two minds over the addition of the folk violin.

Had this been packaged with the 6Music session tracks as bonus material, I would have given this a million bilion stars. As it stands, I can only give it nine hundred thousand billion stars. There's not a bad track on the album, but if you're what's referred to in hushed tones as "Not British" you might miss a lot of the content. Sucks to be you.

Lastly, I did relish the opportunity to talk a bunch of wank about a new HMHB album. Cheers lads. I'm also relishing the opportunity to do a couple of new covers for YouTube. Stay tuned.

posted @ Monday, September 26, 2011 5:12 PM

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