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Time Capsule: Songs for a Future Generation – The B-52’s

Time Capsule: Songs for a Future Generation

(1998), 7/10
Despite ubiquitous songs like ‘Love Shack’ and ‘Roam’, The B-52’s are an acquired taste. I blame it on Aqua; the Swedish pop band had their five minutes of fame by mimicking The B-52’s distinctive style of contrasting shrill female vocals with a campy semi-spoken male voice, and desecrated it with heinous novelty compositions such as ‘Barbie’. In contrast, Time Capsule presents a respectable case for musical legitimacy. As legend has it, The B-52’s went out to dinner, got drunk and vowed to pool their limited musical expertise to form a band. Keith Strickland and Ricky Wilson, who only appears on the early tracks as he passed away from AIDS in 1985, backed the flamboyant vocals of Fred Schneider, Cindy Wilson, and Kate Pierson. While their material is quirky, they rarely resort to novelty songs; the only offender on Time Capsule is the inane ‘Song for a Future Generation’.

‘Private Idaho’, from 1980’s Wild Planet, stands out as the highlight of The B-52s career, but generally their early material is weird and often jarring. I prefer their later singles, which are more straightforward but still too offbeat to be dismissed as commercial pap for the masses. The sweetly harmonised ‘Deadbeat Club’ and ‘Roam’ are particularly enjoyable. Although The B-52’s embody a lot of qualities that I find difficult to like, including kitsch, camp, and lyrical inanity, I still enjoy Time Capsule. It’s probably all The B-52’s I’ll even need, although their debut, Wild Planet, and 1989’s comeback Cosmic Thing are generally their most highly regarded efforts.

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