What You See Is What You Get


EMI, 2000


REVIEW BY: Jason Thornberry


From a Leeds squat in 1984, to royalty cheques for adverts using a now-signature song, Chumbawamba have sparked many a pub argument over the concept of "selling out." The jovial "Tubthumping" single was pretty far removed from the explicit childbirth photograph adorning the cover of 1994's Anarchymy_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 , but it can't be disputed that this force now known world-wide have truly matured with age, and gotten even better, despite cries of hypocrisy from some.

When rich arseholes held hands (on television, of course), and tried to show they cared about the plight of Ethiopians, Chumbawamba's offering was the debut album Pictures of Starving Children Sell Records. The fact that they signed to EMI in 1997 is actually quite humorous. Is the joke on them now, or you the Consumer?

WYSIWYG (What You See is What You Get) shows them looking a bit closer at Estado Unidos with references to Rush Limbaugh, Jerry Springer, Pamela Lee, and American voices doing most of the talking on the patch-work of samples throughout the album. "Your life is a dream. And then you wake up. You watch Friends together, and then you break up."

The second half of WYS has a distinct country-western flavour, with mournful pedal steel guitars mixing with prairie pianos and acoustic six-stringers, so this feels almost like two records. Football terrace sing-alongs on the first ten songs, c-w and Las Vegas show-tunes on the second. You can almost picture the Chumbas doing "Smart Bomb" with Wayne Newton at the Sands Casino, and a line of sparkling dancers giving up the bare minimum of camel-toe as you take a break from the ambitious slot machines.

The hip-hop cut-and-paste production style works surprisingly well with the culturally opposed honky-tonk saloon moments, and you realize that since Chumbawamba represent neither end of this spectrum they can freely do what they want with the two.

Chumbawamba won't wait long enough for any attempts at piss-taking. They went ahead and laughed at themselves already, with a random hooligan warbling the "Tubthumping" chorus on the last track, before a random voice closes the cd saying "That's it." Recommended.

Rating: B

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 2003 Jason Thornberry and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of EMI, and is used for informational purposes only.