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Current concise reviews of the albums by adult alternative, contemporary, and crossover artists. Images of album artwork and links to both internet-based resources are always included. Click on the title to view the article.

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Dance Dance Baby CD Cover
Image © Series 8 Records 2006

The Beangrowers
Ian Schranz, Alison Galea, Mark Sansone
Photo by David Pisani
Image © Series 8 Records 2006

Alison Galea
Alison Galea (vocals, guitar)
Image © Series 8 Records 2006


(04 July 2006) When I heard the repeated guitar line in the opening bars of the Beangrowers latest CD Dance Dance Baby (Series 8 (UK) SER003CD, 2006), it plunged me back 25 years or so to the first time I came across The Sound, one of the finest of the post-punk British bands. It's as much a rhythmic as a melodic device and hooks one into a song immediately--and that's literally just the beginning as Dance Dance Baby is laced with such terrific lines.

With such distinctively British references in their music, it's perhaps surprising to find that the band come not from the UK at all, but from the Mediterranean island of Malta, where the trio--vocalist/guitarist Alison Galea, bassist Mark Sansone and drummer Ian Schranz--were all born in 1977 in St Julian's. Keyboard duties are actually shared among all three) Dance Dance Baby is their third album following 48K and Beangrowers. It is the first to get a wide release.

The sparse guitar-hook opening to the album's opening track "The Farewell Party" only heralds a bigger hook in the chorus where the guitar line is cleverly used as a descant to Alison's voice and the whole thing surges along mightily under the driving power of Mark and Ian's rhythm.

"I Like You" and "You Are You Are" both rock like a runaway train. There's even a moment in the latter when Alison wails like a train whistle!. And there's a touch of P.J. Harvey in the vocals here and the chorus is another nailed on winner. And, as the man says "the hits just keep on coming," the chorus of "Star In Monaco" is like Saint Etienne but with all the musical edges left natural, raw and unsmoothed.

"Dance Dance Baby" is an irresistible invitation to do exactly as the title suggests.Then just when you think you're getting a handle on the Beangrowers, they throw in a song like the beautiful "Waiting." If there's reference here, it's probably The Cardigans, with Alison more than matching Nina Persson for that 'innocent yet sultry' vocal tone.

The darker, brooding "Waltz" creates just the right mood and feel, and "The Priest" continues the variety with its seedy, throwaway vocal until, that is, we get to the chorus which is absolutely magical–-both powerful and memorable, arguably the highlight of the disc. Wim Wenders knew exactly what he doing when he used the song in his recent film Land Of Plenty.

If there is a slight weakness in the album, it's that the final two tracks fail to match up to what has gone before, although everything is relative. The mostly instrumental "Lucky Luka" seems lightweight by comparison, though it's saved somewhat by the lovely vocal coda. The closing piece "Analyze" is rather ponderous in execution despite a gargantuan vocal from Alison. It's a song that's probably stunning live, but hasn't quite made the translation into the studio.

Whilst the music's attitude is defiantly alternative and distinctly retro in feel, in addition to the references above, there are hints of Joy Division, early Blondie, The Cure and shades of both punk and goth. The band's sound is in no way derivative. Their trump card is the way they've managed to combine these darker influences with some sublime choruses and melodies that at times are nothing short of joyously uplifting. Dance Dance Baby is a fabulous album, involving and infectious. You can order this CD directly from the label here. Alternatively,read further reviews, listen to soundbites and order the album from amazon.com. Get yours today.--Jamie Field in Hereford, England

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