Review Summary: D-d-d-do you wanna p-p-party?
Bonaparte is one of those rare gems that seem to be criminally underexposed while being more or less in sync with at least several popular trends of their time. The Berlin-based quirky musical-performance art project encompasses several adorable characteristics that make them undeniably unique yet fairly easily digestible. Even without having the pleasure of seeing their acid-trip-like live shows, with bare-chested fräuleins wearing hollowed-out CRT monitors on their heads and suchlike, an average listener should have no difficulty understanding the message and the spirit of the band; the spirit of unabridged youthful hedonism drenched in sarcastic self-deprecation.
Bonaparte’s 2008 debut “Too Much” is as perfect a calling card as you get. Everything that makes the band their unrepeatable selves is represented here. The herky-jerky dance grooves, the fuzzy vintage synths set against the odd rattling bass line or a raggedy jagged-edge of guitar could be all be probably put under a strained definition of “electro-punk” or “dance-punk”, but genre labeling doesn’t really do justice to the record. The music, the strangely rhythmical spoken-word delivery by Tobias Jundt and the unashamedly two-dimensional but always entertaining subject matter of partying, partying some more, partying way more than necessary and having to scrap yourself up from the floor in time for another party – all that comes together beautifully in a package that is dynamic, charismatic and, most of all, FUN.
I can’t stress enough how much fun “Too Much” is. Of course, the ultimate amount of pleasure extracted from this album is dependent on the listener’s personal taste, but I think anyone with an ear for catchy hooks, dynamic grooves and quirky yet easy-going music will undoubtedly appreciate the energetic wacked-out party sound of “Too Much”, occasionally finding themselves humming one of many hooks under their nose.
Speaking of hooks and refrains, the lyrical-vocal combo of Bonaparte is probably both the most polarizing and arresting aspect of the band. It’s an instant love-or-hate relationship, and if a flamboyant, heavily accented spoken delivery is not your cup of tea, there’s not much Bonaparte can do for you. For everyone else though “Too Much” holds a myriad of memorable and highly quotable one-liners in this ironically-hedonistic style that stick in your mind for a long time. The title track, for example, is presented in a form of a long mocking monologue, highlighting the differences between the immature and scatterbrained protagonist and the stereotypical good girl (boy) he’s addressing, with lines like “You know common law? I ask my Ma” and “You know Tolstoy? I know Playboy”,”You know Churchill? Well I know “Kill Bill”.
As gimmicky as it all might seem – I’d say that’s exactly the point. The essence of a good gimmick is carving out a niche with recognizable individual traits that help an act distinguish itself from everyone else; and trust me, once heard, Bonaparte leave an impression. It might be a weird impression, with confetti stuck in its hair, a bra hanging down an open zipper and a strong scent of liquor on its breath – but a memorable impression nonetheless.