The Bicycles began setting up the stage for their performance at Rancho Relaxo as part of CMW, but it wasn't instruments they were hauling. Suddenly, over-sized cut-outs of the band happily haunted the perimeters of the tiny Rancho stage and you kind of got the feeling that an ambush was on the horizon.
Scheduled to play a night billed by CMW as "Rock Pop Brit," The Bicycles found themselves third up on what may have been the festival's most bizarre grouping. Following performances by 17-year old wunderkind, Hill, and raspy, countrified songstress, Jeen O'Brien, I wasn't quite sure how The Bicycles were going to fit into the scheme. But as they began their super-sugar-pop set, the puzzle made sense: these three bands share a similar taste for tightly-focused pop-songs. Only, The Bicycles do it differentlyÖ
Bicycle Matt Beckett is ushered into the first song by his fellow foot-mobiles; Dana Snell's airy drums and a happy instrumental backing paints a world where even inanimate objects bop along with a smile. But there's a nudge-nudge, wink-wink as Beckett sings about more than just la-la-love. The combination of sugar-pop with dirty-ish lyrics about romanticizing crushes, Paris' famed Moulin women and yearning for the hedonistic delights waiting beyond the practice room, sounds like a salute to earlier artists from the 70s whose listener-friendly sound might easily bypass certain fans who would otherwise disagree with the message. Beckett's vocals are at once syrupy and sultry, like a long-stemmed maraschino cherry topping off a tasty ice cream sundae. Reminiscent of the slithering and sexy vox of the late Marc Bolan, the lead Bicycle has a peculiar interpolating presence, even as he kneels at his keyboard and twinkles out an accompanying melody, seemingly oblivious to the outside world. The frequent trumpeting-sounds of Andrew Scott (not that Andrew Scott) certainly pack the Brit into the Pop, but to a degree where I'm sure everyone would concur that the songs need it. The highlight of their performance was having drummer Dana Snell co-singing a song with Andrew Scott, proving that even within a tight pop-formula there is certainly room for this band to cycle around.
Writer: Irene Angelopoulos