Once upon a time, Bis was a wee darling of the indie-pop scene. Peppy, sugar-fueled younger cousins to the Brit-pop “revolution” and superstars of the U.S. international pop underground. Those were the days of the vague concept of “Teen-C” power, DIY deliberate cheesiness and more energy, optimism and high school us-vs.-them poetics/polemics than you could shake a joystick at. Well, it had to happen. Bis had to turn the corner to adulthood sooner or later. (Actually, they could’ve broken up and been legendary, but that’s just not graceful these days, is it?) Music For A Stranger World is that transition record — a six-song EP that finds the trio of Manda Rin and brothers John Disco and Sci-Fi Steven expanding their frame of reference and taking off a bouncy edge in favor of a streamlined sophistication. To indulge in a bit of rock-crit-cliché equationism (an apology in advance if you’d like to tune out now), much of Music is a diamond-bright karaoke dance party hosted by Madonna and starring Devo (circa Freedom of Choice or Shout) and Gang of Four (circa any ole time). In fact, Manda Rin is often a ringer for the “Holiday”-era Material Girl (and that’s a compliment). With an edge of worldly cynicism to balance out the Powerpuff mania, Music For a Stranger World is Bis laying claim to a musical future (retro as it may feel at times) and trying to keep one platform sneaker in the world of the sweet shop pogo pit. A tricky balancing act, but Bis doesn’t let on to feeling any growing pains.
E-mail Chris Handyside at [email protected].