With two members (Jordan Copeland and Max Hallet) having toured with Primus, who supplied South Park with their wonky theme tune, it is perhaps no surprise that they named the band after a South Park episode. It’s a shame they went with Super Best Friends Club rather than Butters’ Bottom Bitch or Eek, A Penis, but you can’t have it all.
Apparently formed in some haste to provide a performance based on “optimism, nudity, bodypaint, frantic dance routines and blissed out pop”, SBFC seem to have taken that particular assignment as their raison d’être permanently. Their formation for that performance was rushed (48 hours to come up with the goods) so it’s reasonable to assume that ideas were thrown in with little or no editing process. This album, whilst clearly not operating to similar deadlines, appears to have been created in a similar fashion. No stone left unturned, no turn left unstoned, Super Best Friends Club the album is a frantic collection of ideas jostling for space. And yet somehow it doesn’t sound like a total mess.
An album of intense fusion, it’d be hard not to find something that appeals here. If gonzo freakout doesn’t appeal then it’s worth waiting around for 20 seconds, because a pop nugget will be along shortly, followed by a tinkle of classical piano, or chanted harmony singing. Universe Universe slides into life with the sound of piano being manipulated into electronic madness, before it launches head long into a tumbling sprint alongside blistering drums and bass. Those that remember Lapsus Linguae’s punk/classical hybrid will feel at home in an instant, those that don’t will be stunned by the handbrake turns as the band veers from classical nuance, into punk speed, through babbling chanting and into Zorn-like jazz madness. That’s just the opening track.
Elsewhere there’s the Cardiacs-like fairground excesses of Evolution that whirl and twist like a carousel breaking free of its moorings. Despite its outlandish twitching, there’s no getting away from the fact there’s a distinct element of prog at play here, and the longer it goes on, the closer it gets to The Nice’s organ/keyboard driven take on America. Not of course that there’s anything with a bit of prog of course, self-indulgent though the form might be, occasionally it is kind enough to let its audience in, and with the party atmosphere SBFC generate, everyone’s invited.
Of course there are times when everything gets just a little too much and in need of some judicious clipping. So Am I Me Too for example continues the barrage of changes and styles, but tends to drift off into rambling jazz territory. The elevator jazz nightmare Onetwothreeforfivesixseven is even worse; good natured it might be, but if it were possible to punch a song into unconsciousness, this would be a fine choice. It would be unreasonable to expect every element of SBFC to hit home, but it’s during these jazzier moments that the band urge to kick the band up the arse and holler “get on with it” is almost unbearable. Still, there’s enough inventiveness in the likes of the droning Gregorian chants of Doom, or the feel good, meanandering summer vibe of Sunshine! Super Megatron! to keep things interesting.