Bosco: Action

Ben Varkentine



Label: Atlantic
US Release Date: 2001-08-21

From the boom-clap-bash of the first track, "Satellite" to the meaningless but inoffensive snippet of the last, "Runk Pockers", Bosco's Action is undeniably the sound of two people (Stephane Bodin and Francoise Marche)who love electronica from Pretty Tony to Daft Punk.

It is also undeniable that their eclecticism is confounding and ingratiating in one go, which makes it hard to get any angle on them for a review, but makes for some fun games of spot-the-samples (Monty Python, what sounds like an excitable DJ crying out, and a religious broadcast).

Lyrically, there's not much to discuss. That English is not the first language of this duo is signaled by songs like "Mr. Fresh", which sound like compositions for Mentos commercials -- the same head-scratching approximation of US culture just slightly off, a little too bright and youth-fixated.

It would be silly to criticize Bosco for not being as terribly developed or refined, perhaps, as I would like. One suspects they merely want to give us some grins while playing the sort of music they enjoy, and I can't fault them for this. Bosco are too enjoyable to dismiss, but not original or novel enough to praise without qualification. They seem to be one of those second-or-third string bands that always follow the paths others have started but cannot keep up with them. "Hey! Hey! Hey!", for example, their attempt at a "country-fried" song, comes off sounding (to my '80s-fied ears) like Greg Kihn playing synth-pop (which is, in itself, something I certainly would like to hear).

Overall, this is a very "gimmicky" record. Vocals are sped-up and otherwise altered to sound as though the Chipmunks have broken loose from David Seville and got into the recording studio. The one relatively straightforward song, "Self satisfaction" sounds too much like a calculated attempt at a single to connect, but there are some nice block-style keyboards in the fade. "Nonstop Nonsense", featuring Fred Schneider of the B-52s, poses the question, does the backing track sound so much like Schneider's dance-pop because he's singing over it, or did they get him to sing over it because of the way it sounded? Or something like that. "Christian's decision" puts an impenetrable spoken-word text (the religious broadcast mentioned earlier) over a stammering guitar line. "Discotheque" is fourth-rate synth pop.

If you play Action enough times, the tracks will definitely begin bouncing around your head. It is a measure of the degree to which the album succeeds on its own terms that you won't mind that much.

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