In a post-Spice Girls pop world, where ‘Girl Power’ has been all too hastily supplemented by “How would you like us?”, it’s enormously satisfying to know that Bananarama never went away.
They may now be two middle-aged women and probably more intrinsically respectable than they ever imagined they might be, but they are the original UK girl group of the modern era – and the most successful – and serve to remind their spiritual spawn that there is an alternative, more independent-minded way to have a pop career.
They can do this because, and this is the most important thing about Bananarama and why everybody from Ms Dynamite to Girls Aloud to Lady Gaga should pay attention, they have never changed their approach to what they do. This may be their tenth album in their 30th year as a group and they may have acquired considerable sophistication along the way, but it still bristles with the sort of energy born out of total conviction that what they are doing is right for them. Regardless of what’s going on around them.
In this case it’s the hi-NRG-ish disco pop, which has served them well over time, with the producer here, Ian Masterton, not only getting the best out of the duo but making them sound a little bit contemporary by ushering in outside influences. As touches rather than fully-formed ideas, meaning the mix of self-penned tunes and covers – The Runner, S-S-S-Single Bed and Rapture – ploughs a pretty straightforward, synth-heavy path with not a great deal of tonal variation. That said, nobody knows their audience as well as this group – you wouldn’t survive for 30-odd years if you didn’t – and it’s not meant to be played as an album, but spun as one-offs in Europe’s most openly hedonistic discos.
Under those circumstances, the overblown dramas of the big keyboard explosions of Love Don’t Live Here and Tell Me Tomorrow or the relentlessly pumping Dum Dum Boy and Love Comes or the elastic groove in Seventeen will find a natural and enthusiastic home. Viva Bananarama, indeed. --Lloyd Bradley
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Bananarama’s story starts a new chapter Viva Bananarama
--an exciting, modern new album with both feet planted on the dancefloor. In 2009 Sara Dallin and Keren Woodward have found a perfect foil in Ian Masterson, a producer whose credits range from Pet Shop Boys to Girls Aloud and whose instinctive grasp of the Bananarama spirit has resulted in some extraordinarily good music on this new album. Of the new tunes, "Seventeen" is an undulating, low-slung electro number which pleads “kiss me like you do in my dreams, make me feel like I was seventeen”, then there’s the seductive, ice-cold "Extraordinary" and the single "Love Comes"--a dancefloor belter with no strings attached.