Smoke and Mirrors by The Fizz – Album Review
By David Schuster
Sometimes a band’s name tells you everything you need to know about what they’ll sound like, and that’s certainly true of The Fizz: The three quarters of much loved Eurovision winners Bucks Fizz got custody of the second part of the name when the band split, and are as full of bubbly fun as a bottle of pink prosecco.
Smoke and Mirrors is the third studio album from the re-structured band, whose 2017 release, The F-Z of Pop, reached the highest chart position enjoyed by the group’s members for 31 years, and to be honest, it had me at the first track. ‘Winning Ways’ is a song with pleasingly sarcastic lyrics that boils down to: ‘Why don’t you tell it to someone who cares?’ The words, “Tell me again your sad, sad story. How the world went wrong. Tell me about your former glory. How the world moved on”, pretty much sum up the ethos of the whole album; reflective, but keenly aware of the dangers of dwelling in the past and so, determinedly forward looking.
“Instantly familiar sound”
‘T.O.T.P.’, the title of track three, are initials that will be instantly recognisable to anyone of a certain age, who remembers when Top Of The Pops could boast 19 million viewers and was the only yardstick by which musical success was measured. It starts with, (what could be) the only use in musical history of a sample of Tony Blackburn, introducing the program in the typical cheesy style favoured by Radio 1 DJs of the time, but which sadly is more likely to be a voice over artist.
‘The World We Left Behind’ and ‘Nothing’s Gonna Last Forever’ both continue the theme of making the most of today and not dwelling too much in the past: “Better move fast, nothing’s gonna last forever”. Importantly though, both are finely crafted pop songs that will sit nicely into Radio 2’s playlist. The Fizz have an instantly familiar sound, thanks largely to the production of Mike Stock, one third of famed Stock, Aitken and Waterman, the fantastically successful entrepreneurs/evil geniuses, dependant on your viewpoint, that dominated the pop music of the mid to late eighties.
My only reservation, (forgive the pun) about the whole album is ‘Reservation’, which uses ‘leaving the reservation’ and ‘leaving the plantation’ as metaphors for breaking free. I’m sure it was innocently intended but is clumsy at best. After all, history shows us that, if those confined to the reservations or enslaved to the plantations could have left without horrific consequences, they would have done.
I make no apologies for loving the Eurovision Song Contest, it’s earnest, cheesy silliness and not least because it gave us Bucks Fizz. Nearly 40 years on they’ve still got a vibe that would fit nicely into Eurovision. ‘Boomerang’ ticks all the boxes: Breathy vocals in the verses and a catchy chorus with singalong lyrics, but most of all it has the lines; ‘Love is like a boomerang. Woah-o-woah. It goes boom, boom, boom in my heart.’ If that’s not 24 carat Eurovision I don’t know what is. I’d advise The Fizz against competing again though: I can’t see our European neighbours voting for the UK anytime soon, even if we fielded the resurrected and reformed Beatles singing ‘Love Me Do’.
This is a masterpiece of light fluffy pop and the perfect antidote to the winter blues. Take Ed Sheeran off repeat play and listen to this instead. I promise that the world will seem like a happier place. After all, what’s the best bit of a Bucks Fizz? The Fizz.