1000 Albums Project

ALBUM 426

Bicep, by Bicep
Suggested by Paul Wray

If you’re looking for a strong band name, to out-flex the local competition, I suppose Bicep fits the bill.

For some reason, I presumed that anyone who’d call their band Bicep must be French. I know that makes no sense, but we all know that the best assumptions are equal part fact and whimsy. Calling a band Bicep seems like something a Frenchman would do. I was surprised to discover that Bicep hail from Northern Ireland, but Northern Ireland is, as we all know, very much the France of the UK.

Naming your band after such a strong body part is a power play. “Look at me,” it screams. “I am taut and muscular. My music is a twenty-four inch python, brother, and it will curl you to death!” This Northern Irish dance duo are not the first band to harness the energies provided by the Body Part Band Name, and they certainly won’t be the last.

Let’s have a rundown of the Top 10 Acts Named After Body Parts.

10: Bicep
9: Heart
8: Bad Brains
7: Stiff Little Fingers
6: Smash Mouth
5: The Flaming Lips
4: Elbow
3: The Small Faces
2: The Butthole Surfers
1: Willie Nelson

Honourable mentions go to a host of Heads (Motor, Machine, Radio, Talking, Diamond, Portis, Lemon), The Tragically Hip, Pussy Riot, and Ce Ce Peniston.

The self-titled Bicep is the band’s debut release, from 2017, although they’ve been a force since 2009, springing from a genre blog called Feel My Bicep. While this brings a pleasing silliness to their name, it’s a little too Purple Aki for my tastes. And sadly, their music is similarly unpalatable, with its largely instrumental ambient nightclub fare treading a fine line between creditable artistry and bland cookie-cutter dance beats. For me, those tightrope feet fall on the wrong side of this line far too often.

It’s unobtrusive and inoffensive fare, which admittedly does display a sweet sense of structure in part, with a few surprises in the mix, but it largely chooses to colour inside the lines with the colours suggested on the box. There’s no sense of adventure, no call to arms, no urgency, no fire. It’s pleasant enough, but entirely forgettable.

There are some albums that act like greased pigs, in that they slide through the listeners’ mental grasp with an almost arrogant ease. I feel that Bicep fits that bill, as I was on Track 3 (Kites) yet hadn’t registered that I’d finished Track 1 (Orca). Everything blended into itself, with repetition in the individual songs and similarities shared by every track meaning that it’s hard to give the experience any discernible shape other than Amorphous Aural Blob. I’m hard pressed to highlight a standout, as it felt like one sixty-minute song. I’ll go with Vale, as at least that stood out as the one with a singer included.

Maybe I’m being harsh. There’s a certain retro chic here, an almost Eighties synth approach, a throwback to computer game music in a time when full orchestration was impossible. But if I want that, I’ve plenty of exciting practitioners to examine and explore.

Overall, I can’t see past 4/10 for this album. Fans of the genre will surely disagree, but this particular muscle did nothing but get on my nerves.

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