LIKE THE TELETUBBIES, Bis are a U.K. export aimed at the youth market. Their rhetorical strategy--also like the 'Tubbies-- involves a mind-numbing repetition that tends to drive the grown-ups a little mad. And for all the happy talk, the mission of both entities can be boiled down to making adult consumers out of the little ones.
Bis (Sci-fi Steven, Manda Rin, and John Disco) are the founders and heads of state of the "Teen-C" nation--an adolescent utopia where John Hughes is God, the diet consists solely of sugary treats, and threats to national self-esteem, such as bullies, roller-skaters, snobbish indie-rockers and oppressive boyfriends presumably have been eliminated. Bis's 1996 EP This is Teen-C Power and their 1997 debut LP, The New Transistor Heroes, outline the foundations of the Teen-C nation: teen movies, skateboards, Drew Barrymore, the contraction "yr," popcorn, cats, disco, and the inalienable right to rot one's teeth.
Intendo, their new collection of b-sides and rarities, offers some of Bis's most endearing work to date--no mean feat for an odds 'n' ends disc. The double-time chorus of "Statement of Intent" is propulsive and edgy, while "Cookie Cutter Kid" features a more-than-credible rap performance by Sci-Fi Steve. Perhaps because of Intendo's mercifully brief running time (less than a half-hour), the incessant sloganeering and naive "politics" that have made Bis's previous output a bit of a challenge for those over 20 don't weigh down the manic energy that is the band's most admirable quality. Hell, even Manda's sub-riot-grrl braying is tolerable, if not exactly appealing, in so small a dose.
Bis offer classic teenage rebellion of the "without a cause" variety: energetic but ultimately empty pro-teen cheerleading ("Teen-C power unites us all/And all the kids got to have a rebel soul"). The faux Hello Kitty artwork and the whiny grown-ups-suck rhetoric belie the band's insistence that they are "more than your cartoon punks," and suggest that they suffer from the eternal paradox of the late teenage years--when one wants the privileges of adulthood without the responsibilities. Hey, I don't want to work either, but car insurance is expensive and my skateboard won't cut it on the interstate.
Get the Music Newsletter
Keep your thumb on the local music scene each week with music news, trends, artist interviews and concert listings. We'll also send you special ticket offers and music deals.