Abdoujaparov - Cycle Riot History Gang

George Bass 14/03/2007

Rating: 4/5

It may be five years since their last album proper, but Abdoujaparov haven't exactly been sat around with their feet up and their thumbs a-twiddling. Darting round the gig circuit like a fart in a colander and occasionally masquerading as iDou ‐ where backing tracks and gig setlists are dictated by an iPod Shuffle, leaving the remaining human musicians to effectively do a Luke Rhinehart on stage ‐ the band have only just got round to pinning down an LP's worth of new material. Cycle Riot History Gang takes their comfy punk scuzziness and buffs it up with a slick studio sheen, resulting in thirty-eight minutes of supersonic heroics that even a bailiff wouldn't want to prise out of your stereo.

The record's yellow jersey hints at the tour-winning pedalwork put into the eleven tracks, leaving you poised for the traffic lights to change to green as soon it all kicks off. As with their debut, the doctrine of the album is pretty much straightforward rock, choppy as a butcher's sideburns and with some grains of folk thrown into the mix for good measure. The looney tuney hangover of Fast And Furious (think Vin Diesel on a driving ban) married with the barmy karma of Ultra Cool are undoubtedly puppet strings to keep your head moving, but they're both pleasantly shushed by the more low-key Brenda, You Lost Your Temper, which shows off frontman Les "Fruitbat" Carter's eerie knack for melding domestic nastiness into singalong pop, like B&S minus the BS. It slots in neatly with the more lively tracks, and clears the air for its blokier counterpart Hit Her With The Pig, the apex of the album's mischievous side. First appearing last year under the iDou moniker, the track is a raucous reinterpretation of Stephen King's Misery with a celebrity guitarist hobbling along in James Caan's piss-sodden shoes. 'I know it seems like nobody is home/But I'm a bit tied-up and I can't get to the phone...', warbles Fruity over an onslaught of bass revs, horns and Fendery slang while he begs to be saved from his frumpy captor by the iron effigy of the title.

On the whole, though, the album works because it doesn't simply try to pound you with noise until you stand to attention and mosh, and instead puts as much emphasis on lyrical musings as it does on sawing through your speakers. I've Got A Secret is another slow number, mooching along like Madness' Lovestruck shot down with a tranquiliser dart and letting some small hours dark into the proceedings. 'A golden hair fell from the head of a girl somewhere/The one you murdered and buried there/No one knows she's there'. Luckily it's not long till the sun comes up again, with live favourite Beer Scooter finally given the studio time it deserves. A deep-thinking drinking anthem that captures the woozy high of being bladdered just as surely as an early-morning Solero exorcises the hangover, it teaches us to embrace the holes in our memory rather than shrink away from them. Just make sure you're within dashing distance of the trap and you'll be right as rain. The liver gives way to the ticker for hearty send-off Still Friends, as Fruity pleads for us to get off our arses and give our forgotten mates a buzz while there's still time. He pulls out all the stops, and dresses his message in some synth trimmings bright as tinsel while almost tripping over himself in saying thanks to his nearest and dearest, proving that when your hoarse-throated and crushed in at the front of the stage you're twice as likely to get a hug from a stranger.

With blue-on-blue duds from so many of the mainstream acts, it can feel at times that the guitar genres have been systematically neutered, their spunk siphoned out of them by the mouths of the majors. Wave after wave of recent 'sensations' seem to pig out on hype till they turn into self-paradoy, fast-tracking their way into the bargain bin and the severance clause in their contact. Thank gawd for Les Carter and co, whose long overdue sophomore effort fizzes with the guzzlable succulence of vintage Supergrass and boings like a jetball against the health-and-safety airpunch of contemporary dadrock. Let's just hope they don't leave it so long till next time.