A Fierce Pancake

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Although Stump is often lumped in with the so-called C-86 movement of British indie pop (unlike most of those bands, Stump actually appeared on the New Musical Express sampler cassette of that name), they actually have little in common with the jangly guitar pop of Talulah Gosh or early Primal Scream. Indeed, the closest comparison is Captain Beefheart. This Irish quartet, led by singer Mick Lynch and keyboardist Kev Hopper, mixes jagged melodies that take abrupt left turns with bizarre lyrics delivered in voices ranging from silly falsettos to a grunting basso profundo. Topics include the tourist-baiting "Buffalo" (with its shrieking "How much is the fish?/How much is the chips?" chorus, which remains what the group is most remembered for) and the sly Bible story recasting of "Charlton Heston" (set to a rhythm track of croaking frogs). The production by German electronica expert Holger Hiller is antiseptically clean, which only sets off more clearly how fundamentally twisted these songs are. From the title and cover photos to the increasingly odd songs, A Fierce Pancake is one of the odder records to gain a major-label release in 1988.

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