Album Reviews

Bros: Push (Cherry Pop)

bros

Whither Bros?

It’s easy to write off twins Matt and Luke Goss. They didn’t make doing so very hard; their chiseled good-looks, their soulful singing voices, tweaked ever-so-much to sound not unlike Michael Jackson, and their every move and every song written by the management and production team: these things worked for them, but also doomed them to their fate. They are a product of the musical production line of the mid-to-late 1980s; they were Tom Grant‘s answer to the Stock Aitken Waterman production powerhouse. Those in the know had no grand expectations about their longevity; nobody had expectations of serious Wilfrid Mellers style musicological examination. Yes, they were teen pop. Yes, they were molded and shaped to take direct aim at the hormones of teenage girls. Yes, nobody over the age of 18 was to like them–except, of course, the housewives who mothered their teenage fans.

Yet the question remains: what, exactly, is wrong with that? Why must a pop band have delusions of grandeur and artistic credibility? Are the only credible artists ones who do not think of these things? If such is the case, one can dismiss well-respected artists such as Scott Walker, The Beach Boys, Elvis Presley, The Bee Gees, and even The Beatles–all acts that were, at one point, molded to appeal to a very specific demographic…and that audience did not consist of college students, my friend.

Nor is it right to simply dismiss an artist because they do not appeal to your sense–or are not meant to appeal to your tastes. To hate a teenager for liking, say, One Direction instead of Karlheinz Stockhausen would be the equivalent of me dismissing a five year old for loving Hop on Pop and not The Necronomicon. (Okay, so I’d probably enjoy the former over the latter, but that’s not the point.)

Cherry Pop‘s deluxe reissue of Push might have greatest appeal to Bros’ original fan base…or it might not; the half-life of boy bands is very, very short, as a collective amnesia sets in after their listeners hit high school. Taken at face value, Push as a record is atypical. The Goss brothers’ voices are excellent, even if they feel painfully polished to the point of being a bizarre George Michael/Michael Jackson hybrid; the songs might be mediocre, but they sound amazing–which, of course, is very important to their fans. Yet one can’t deny that the arrangements for their singles–especially their hit, “When Will I Be Famous,”–feel amazing, even now, twenty-five years later.

Push isn’t a revelatory record; in fact, most of the non-single tracks are fairly disposable, but they aren’t without their charms; “Love To Hate You” (not the Erasure hit) has a slow, slinky, seductive groove, while “It’s A Jungle Out There” has a catchy beat that, while dated, is still enjoyable. As with all pop albums, the singles are what make the album a worthwhile purchase–as well as the main focal point of both label and audience.

As thisis an expanded reissue,Push is loaded with two discs of mainly repetitive–though sometimes compelling–tracks. Over three discs, you’ll find eight versions of “I Owe You Nothing” and seven versions of “When Will I Be Famous?” Bros’ management team insisted on remixes instead of new material on their b-sides, thus only three songs are really “new” material–“The Boy Is Dropped” is an answer song to “Drop The Boy,” “The Big Push Overture” is a forgettable number, while “Silent Night” and a live version of”Shocked” highlight the brothers’ singing talents.

As a historical document, Push is an interesting slice-of-life; it’s a relic of British pop culture; one that’s coming off of new wave and synth-pop, but before Madchester, baggy, Britpop, and alternative music. Looking back, we might not appreciate what exactly caused teenage girls to frenzy to the duo, but spending time with Push, it’s not hard to understand why.

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