VHS or Beta

The British and French can barely conceal their contempt for one another, so leave it to a band from Louisville, Kentucky, to unite the two countries' rich, if diametrically opposed, musical traditions. VHS or Beta's debut album, Le Funk — short on vocals but long on grooves — flaunted an unmistakably Parisian state of mind. But the bandmates' subsequent record, Night on Fire, saw them set across the English Channel, adding both buoyant, guitar-driven choruses and the vocal talents of Craig Pfunder to the mix. The result was a rare album that could please skinny-pantsed clubgoers and the most ardent British rock fans alike.

The group's third offering, Bring on the Comets, edges ever so slightly closer to this UK model of New Wave, the kind ignited by New Order and commercially perfected by Duran Duran and the Cure. Retrofitted with a Peter Hook-esque bass line, "Fall Down Lightly" is a radiant and fitting homage to the era that continues to inspire the band. But the further good news is that, despite its slight Anglo bent, Bring on the Comets is still very much the product of VHS or Beta's recently established formula. Worthy successors here to previous hits like "Night on Fire" are "Love in My Pocket" and "Burn It All Down," melding jagged postpunk guitars with Daft Punk's deft sense of rhythm.

The British and French might not be any closer to burying the hatchet, but with Bring on the Comets, VHS or Beta certainly provides incentive for a speedy resolution.


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