Frankenstein was the Monster – The Amber Bugs (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

Absolutely bonkers and arriving just in time for Halloween, the latest release from the strange and awesome Amber Bugs pushes their love of tongue-in-cheek (and perhaps even bolt-through-neck) vaudeville and silly musical hall sounds to its extreme. It’s a vibe that has always been fairly close to the surface of the creations but often has to battle for sonic space with ska skanks, pop moves, punk mayhem, rock grooves..and much more besides. On Frankenstein was the Monster, they go unashamedly, full-on Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band. And why not?

The song references not just the mad scientist and his creation of the title but throws in other Halloween and horror tropes such as a hand rising from the grave, King Kong and a nod to classic Dr Stranglelove with another Kong, this one a major and riding a bomb as it falls from the sky, not to mention plenty of homemade skits and chuckles.

But the twist here is that they stand in the monster’s corner and point out, quite rightly, that it was the creator that was the bad guy, the monster just an innocent victim…sewn together out of lots of other, just as innocent, victims. And as the music bops and bounces along, it momentarily stops playing for lyrical laughs quite so much and makes some cogent points. In that, science is a double-edged sword and as well as bringing us such innovations as mobile phones and fridge-freezers, hover-brellas and avocado on a stick, (that was a thing, right?) it has been responsible for such terrors as nuclear bombs and mustard gas and reality TV and, perhaps worst of all, TikTok!

So there is something hidden in the lyrics which give it a slight air of poignancy and dignity but mainly it is a silly song, with a silly video…which is the best kind. Who needs windswept and interesting catwalk pop stars when you can have monster masks from the pound shop, photo-shopped apes, ham actors with tin-foil props and a fixation with stop motion tomatoes? Not I!

Not everything has to be taken seriously, does it? How else can you explain GB News? And here the Bugs do what they do best, mixing infectious, stompy, swaggering, sing-alongs with video production qualities that would make 70’s Blue Peter seem like the latest Denis Villeneuve Blockbuster.

It’s A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum meets a Boy Scout Gang Show. It’s 21st-century vaudeville with an early Doctor Who sized budget, it’s Hammer House of Horror meets Tin Pan Alley. But as Paul Weller himself once so succinctly and unarguably put it, that’s entertainment!

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