Je Suis Un Baseball Bat

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Wiz of Farnborough, England's well-missed Mega City Four is back again. A few years ago, after too many years off, the talented singer/songwriter/guitarist formed a new quartet called Serpico that took him back to the harder and louder, but no less poppy attack of MC4's transitional second LP, Who Cares Wins. This we know from their lone release, 2000s hard-hitting Everyone Vs. Everyone EP. Now, having slimmed down to a trio, Serpico has changed its name to Ipanema and is, believe it or not, hitting even harder on this first single under the new moniker! "Je Suis" could be said to go even further back, to the ripping stabs of the Megas' classic 1987 debut single, "Miles Apart." No kidding! Best of all, for all its breathless rush, "Je Suis" is just as fiendishly catchy. Wiz's caring-guy voice is pushed hard at this hot tempo to come up with his arching, soaring, held-vowel melodies -- as he states up front, in case anyone doubts the ferocity of his new intent, "It's not a joke, not a joke, not a joke." The rhythm section of Simon Dorey on bass (eventually replaced by ex-Floor guy Colin Renton) and Paddy on drums slashes hard behind him, with all the controlled violence of a battering ram or that stick in Barry Bonds hands. "'I am a baseball bat' he said/'I am a splinter in your head'/He wants to do some damage" warns Wiz as he scolds, "But it's not me/Who wants to build a wall." Going back 15 years, the bloke's always had a way with sleuthing those elusive places where relationships disconnect and then sever in a storm of recriminations. It's just been years since he put it to music this revved up. Don't think the B-side "Skull" is any different, either, as Paddy pounds the floor tom on the verses, leading brilliantly into the "She's in my skull!" choruses of terrible obsession. "What doesn't kill me makes me weak" observes Wiz slyly and unhappily, amazed at his lack of self-restraint, before condemning himself in the stop-start bridge, "Got nothing left/No self-respect/And now I regret." Powerful stuff for one mere two-song single, and really lofty work from someone who already set an alpine standard so long ago. If any single screamed "It's album time," it's this one. Whew!