...Fact: Half Man Half Biscuit are a bit like Marmite. You either love them or you hate them. And like Marmite, many people decide that they hate HMHB without actually bothering to try a taste.
But those people won't be reading this review, so that doesn't matter. What you want to know is, is this album any good?
Oh, it's good all right. Speaking personally, I'd have to disagree with the folks who call it their best album. For me that will always be 'Back Again in the DHSS'. But 'Voyage to the Bottom of the Road' is a real contender, and definitely lives up there with HMHB's better works.
You know the formula by now. Amiable rock with a punk-ish kind of influence, waxing lyrical on life's little absurdities (He Who Would Valium Take, CAMRA Man, ITMA), telling stories so achingly mundane you can't help but feel a part of them (Dead Men Don't Need Season Tickets, Deep House Victims Minibus Appeal), and poking fun at the little things which annoy the hell out of us all (Paintball's Coming Home). It doesn't sound like it should work. But it does!
It's also worth remembering that underneath the silliness is a very capable bunch of musicians, with a nicely distinctive approach to songwriting. This album is a particularly good showcase of HMHB's latent musical talent.
So, Voyage to the Bottom of the Road, then: One for the fans? Definitely. One for everybody else? Well, I'd say so. It's certainly one of their more accessible albums and doesn't take a lot of listening to before you start to get into it. I wouldn't say it's their best, but as a starting point for the curious, you could do much, much worse.