Amazingly, after more than a quarter of a decade, Half Man Half Biscuit are still getting better and better. Faced with the dangerous sterility that always lies in wait for the careless humorist, Nigel Blackwell's arch observations remain remarkably fresh, still more insightful and get more inventive by the album. After only the mildest of lulls when the band reformed in the nineties, latterly the consistency on masterpieces like Achtung Bono and Cammell Laird Social Club confirmed them as one of the greatest of our musical treasures. So good were these troves, so rich and pertinent the wit, I feared that 90 Bisodol (Crimond) wouldn't be able to compete. I was wrong. It competes and, on most counts, it wins.
Contained herein are a handful of tunes that sit comfortably alongside Blackwell's finest compositions. 'RSVP', for instance, whose deceptively mild and listless introduction leads into a tale of a spurned love who responds by poisoning all the guests at her wedding. You still emphaphise with the murderous narrator, just as you connect with the typically Blackwellian monologues performed by the pissed off social observer in 'Tommy Walsh's Eco House' or the Browning-esque necrophiliac in 'Excavating Rita'. Sifting through these delights, you're left breathless at the end to find that they've truly saved the best till last, 'Rock & Roll is Full of Bad Wools', a Blackwell tour de force, reeling from the hapless incumbent on the Soccer AM sofa whose frantic couplets ('Do you ever get to Roots Hall/Which to him means fuck all'; 'Might need some help with this/But Heston's gone for a piss') reach their denouement in the most apposite way, Neil Ruddock entering left to 'get him in a headlock', through to an understated, perfectly exact dismissal of pub bands. 'They play two sets/And then say "requests"' Nothing more needs to be said when delivered by Nigel's ever laconic yet acerbic tongue.
Another triumph. Inevitably