01 December 2004

Bearsuit - 'Chargr'

I couldn’t understand the suggestion that came from some quarters after the awful loss of John Peel for the Undertones’ Teenage Kicks to be released, in the hope that it would make Christmas number one. To me, this missed the point of John Peel. It was about new sounds more than old, and chart placings were never a barometer of success. Far more appropriate would be if everyone went out and bought a copy of the new Bearsuit single. (Okay, apparently they only pressed 500, so we’d have to demand some more.) This is a fine example of a band I owe to Peel. Without him, it’s unlikely I’d ever heard of them, never mind having probably more of their records than is good for me in my music accumulation.

It would be fair to describe Bearsuit as an erratic band. They’re daft, whimsical souls. Live, they veer between brilliant and dreadful, and are not averse to finding percussive possibilities in pots and pans. On record, they think it’s boring if a song doesn’t change tune, speed and direction at least two or three times in a couple of minutes. It’s like they’ve got a million ideas in their heads and only a few songs to cram them into. Hey, it’s better than vice versa, and one thing you can never accuse them of is being bland. It just so happens that I think their first single, the irresistible Hey Charlie, Hey Chuck, was their best, and it’s also the simplest, most singalong thing they’ve done. Recent LP Cat Spectacular! was patchy, but I have some fondness for single Itsuko Got Married with its insane binary chanting, so maybe they’re a singles band.

And Chargr is great, perhaps their best since the immortal Hey Charlie. Inside it, chaos reigns. Two people appear to be having an argument in a factory, a man shouts at us, there’s a saccharine interlude – now I will always think of summer as ‘midriff season’- and then the whole things over before you know it with an urgent, abrupt ending. Best play it again, and again. The b-side’s a sort of Christmassy number, not their first. I’d quite like to spend Christmas round at Bearsuit’s house. I think it might be interesting.

The single is on 7” vinyl only – quite right too – from Fortuna Pop - www.fortunapop.com - or you can download an even scratchier sounding MP3 of it – no substitute for the real thing – from the Bearsuit website at www.bearsuit.co.uk. While there, download some other stuff, particularly the divine Hey Charlie, Hey Chuck.

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