Social Dancing

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After bis' first album seemed to put a period at the end of their early iteration as a riotous grrrl/boy trio, the band needed to change things up a bit to keep from being stuck in first gear. On 1999's Social Dancing, they tried a whole bunch of different stuff, from more punky rave-ups to slinky trip-hop, and if the end result is a little scattered, it's also an enjoyable mess. When bis fit the pieces together in the right way, they end up with genius pop music like the rollicking "I'm a Slut" or the raging "The Hit Girl." Here they take the simple formula they were working with before and supercharge it, adding new wave synths and hyper-competent guitar work. The bulk of the album follows this basic set-up, with Manda Rin yowling happily and John Disco and Sci-Fi Steven making lots of streamlined racket. When they stretch a little, the results are less reliable. On one end of the spectrum, "Eurodisco" is a glittering shard of Euro-disco that everyone from Cerrone to LCD Soundsystem would be happy to call their own creation, on the other is the Massive Attack-flavored "Detour," a song features some ill-advised rapping and a mood that is just too foreign to bis for them to make work. Fortunately, the scales are tipped decidedly in favor of good and the album works as a transitional move that's not only a solid step forward but also a total blast to listen to.

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