My biggest shock on reading about ‘Think Ringo’ – the third album by Belgian outfit Showstar – is that they are “weaving a darker, insular sound”. On first impressions, I couldn’t think of any bands who sound any less dark as this record seems to be full of cheery pop numbers which recall the brightest, most optimistic exponents of Brit Pop. Scratch beneath the surface, though, and a troubled story emerges.
Several of the songs seem to be about the apparently mundane subject of being in a band as song titles as simplistic as ‘On The Telly’ and ‘Battle Of The Bands’ can only indicate. You sense they wouldn’t get away with it, were it not for the naggingly infectious songs they produce. The second track ‘(Love)’ is a joyous anthem with unshakeable verses and choruses which seem so eager to please, you could imagine a boy band performing it. That is until you analyse the lyrics which begin as “don’t like” and then switch to “can’t stand” by the end of the record and then it’s clear why the word “Love” is in brackets.
If occasionally they come across as a little obvious (‘Battle Of The Bands’ and ‘Your Eighties’ are reminiscent of power-popping Swedes The Wannadies), later tracks reveal the shades of darkness they promised. ‘My Name Is John’ is spiky and aggressive and contains a marvellously, moody middle eight. ‘Finger Generation’ is based around some superb indie guitar hooks and delightful harmonies, whilst the title track ends in a mass of effects and shouted confusion.
Don’t be deceived by the throwaway name, Showstar are definitely a band for whom the term “never judge a book by its cover” applies. They remind me of The Changes, another band who seemed out of place and out of time but knew how to craft the finest of indie pop gems.
The Wannadies, The Changes