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Bananarama - Viva

Bananarama, Viva

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 2 out of 5

LONG gone are the days when Bananarama made anything approaching decent, catchy pop music.

Four or five songs into their latest comeback album – albeit shorn of key member Siobhan Fahey – you’ll be pining for the innocent pleasures of Robert De Niro’s Waiting or Cruel Summer.

Viva Bananarama is an incredibly derivative collection of Euro-pop songs that copy the style of Saint Etienne vocally, and just about every disco pop star thematically and musically.

The tone is set immediately with synth-charged pop stomper and former single Love Comes, a soulless dancefloor filler that’s devoid of any charm whatsoever.

Love Don’t Live Here opens amid an operatic flourish and some vaguely cinematic pianos, before dropping another lame disco beat and a depressing vocal that laments how “love don’t live here anymore”, while Rapture lazily lifts a Kylie-style “la la la la la” bedding melody to really feel like the over-used pop rip-off it truly is.

Seventeen is more Euro disco nonsense that blatantly channels the likes of Saint Etienne, The Runner attempts to recapture the spirit of Abba unsucessfully, and Extraordinary borrows from the production style of Xenomania.

The lack of a decent lyric is then highlighted in the song titles Dum Dum Boy and S-S-S-Single Bed, both of which attempt to come over all playful but which actually hammer the final nails into this album’s coffin.

The PR for Viva suggests that by teaming up with producer Ian Masterson (of Girls Aloud/Pet Shop Boys fame), the girls have rediscovered their knack of working with hit-makers and recapturing their ’80s form.

Sadly, they don’t come close. This is a depressingly forgettable listen that irritates the longer it lasts.

Download picks: None

Track listing:

  1. Love Comes
  2. Love Don’t Live Here
  3. Rapture
  4. Seventeen
  5. Twisting
  6. Tell Me Tomorrow
  7. The Runner
  8. Extraordinary
  9. Dum Dum Boy
  10. S-S-S-Single Bed
  11. We’ve Got The Night

  1. An alternative review:-

    Well, what can I say. Viva arrived this morning. From the clips I’d heard I knew kind of what I was in for. Or so I thought. I’d read a few online reviews which had described the album as a bit soulless and bland. Clearly they reviewers are not target market for true pop. Viva is from start to finish one of the girls best efforts ever. It feels like a group of songs that are meant to be together. It’s the most exciting Bananarama album since 1987’s WOW! It’s going to be playing on my iPod for the remainder of my life! Here’s my review, track by track…

    Love Comes ****
    The album version features slightly different instrumentation and vocals. A perfect intro track with it’s insanely catchy chorus. Viva Bananarama indeed.

    Love Don’t Live Here *****
    A luscious cornucopia of strings and willowy vocals take us on a swirling Pet Shop Boysesque journey. Full of drama and layered harmonies. It brings us a Bananarama firmly back in the driving seat. A wonderful pop anthem – all 4 minutes and 59 seconds of it!

    Rapture ****
    The original version from iio was a sophisticated dance floor filler – Bananarama have ramped up the tempo and the instrumentation is more techno fused. The vocoders are used to good effect and the overall track keeps up the momentum of the previous two tracks. It’s getting a bit warm in here.

    Seventeen *****
    Seventeen sees the girls taking us on a melodic skipping electro trip. It all builds gradually until the last minute of the song which creates some amazing harmonies and criss-cross vocals – a complex, tricksy melting pot of pure electro pop. Phew!

    Twisting *****
    Perhaps the most experimental track on the album, Twisting really does deliver a great sounding Bananarama, new millenium style. An impossibly catchy chorus which literally twists its melody into all kinds of dirty sonic shapes. It’s quite a dark and evil sound but leaves me aghast at how the girls have just gone for it!

    Tell Me Tomorrow ***
    The first slightly mellow track – by mellow I don’t mean slow, but the beat takes on a less “get out of your seat” approach and more a “tap your feet in your chair” approach. More great sweeping instrumentation and vocals though. Another sterling pop effort.

    The Runner ****
    GAY GAY GAY. It’s all and out Bananarama we know and love. From the outset the vocals are aggressive and loud. The relentless electro beat pulsates through the track and I actually got a few goosebumps along the way!

    Extraordinary **
    In the same vein as “Twisiting” Masterson gives us more electro pop with an edge. Vocoders-a-plenty switch and distort the girls’ voices throughout. The track is undeniably catchy but sadly for me it fails to deliver any real soul.

    Dum-Dum Boy *****
    Oh my giddy aunt. This is camper than a row of tents. And you know what!?, I LOVE it. A stand-out track for me. I can see a row of bitchy queens singing this to each other across the dance floor. A great memorable chorus you can’t help but join in with. Where ‘Extraordinary’ lacked in soul dum dum boy makes up in spades. Brilliant.

    S-S-Single Bed ***
    A strange choice for a cover version, but what a brilliant version. Masterson’s instrumentation brings up to date the original while the wispy vocals almost don’t sound like the girls at all. It’s the perfect time to bring down the tempo and let us all recover from the last nine energy fueled songs – and ready us for the final crescendo…

    We’ve Got The Night*****
    The perfect ending to the perfect album. A blinding pop tune with a fabulous timeless quality. It’s the best track on the whole album and I’m thrilled they left it to last. It demanded a ‘hands to heaven’ moment, right there in my kitchen. Pop perfection. “Let’s make it last forever” sing the girls, I couldn’t agree more…

    Gavin    Sep 14    #
  2. Have to disagree with Jacks review on here. It’s obvious from other reviews of his that he doesn’t like pop music.

    Viva is a great pop album. Well worth a listen, and much better than most of the pop tripe that gets released these days!

    Chris Parsons    Sep 14    #
  3. Jack Foley is a complete twat, a reviewer? that he isn’t, because from what he says it becomes very clear very quickly that he’s an idiot! ‘Key Member’ Siobhan left 21 years ago.
    Now return to your bedsit and guitar based music (of which i’m almost sure is what you like?)
    His is ‘a depressingly forgettable review that irritates the longer it lasts.’

    VIVA! is a contemporary, catchy, polished collection of electronic pop songs brilliantly performed by Bananarama who’s vocals and warm harmonies are still evident amidst the cool electronic, but first class production from Ian Masterson, it is indeed an impressive 10th album.

    Standout tracks

    We’ve Got The Night
    Love Don’t Live Here
    Dum Dum Boy
    Seventeen
    Rapture
    The Sound Of Silence

    Judge for yourselves and ignore Jack Foley’s blatant dislike of ‘Euro Pop’ and his very dismissive attitude towards Bananarama, a band that has spanned 28 years in British music.
    VIVA Bananarama.

    Astro Boy    Sep 14    #
  4. What a rubbish review.

    I am a huge Saint Etienne fan and nothing on Viva sounds remotely like them.

    Nathan    Sep 14    #
  5. The comments under the review are obviously staunch fans of the band. I’ve been their fan since the 80s but I keep it real. Last album Drama was great ! I still listen to it. This one is however just synthesized euro pop. Nothing stands out. Tracks blend into each other. I keep my fingers crossed for the group still and I bought this cd from the UK even though I love overseas but I’m not surprised that it charted so poorly at 88 Uk album chart.

    daisy    Sep 28    #