Busted yearns for the ’90s in return to early ‘2000s sound

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Pop Odyssey features Jackie Goff’s thoughts, reviews and analysis of popular music.

By Jackie Goff

Upon first listen of the newest single “Nineties”  from British pop band Busted, I was an odd combination of apprehensive, disappointed, perplexed and… something else. I couldn’t quite figure it out. I listened to it over and over again until I could understand what exactly I was feeling.

When they released their 2016 comeback after a decade apart (read my previous Busted post here), I was thoroughly stunned that I loved the record, though it was different from their younger sound. The band took a turn to an ’80s-friendly, synthy pop-rock vibe, which was OK by me. The more mature sound seemed to suit their second act well.

So when I heard that they would be reverting to their old sound for their follow up, I was apprehensive. I was so into the new Busted; I didn’t want to see them go backward.

The song starts with a drum machine beat and synth pads that made me think the direction change wouldn’t be so different, maintaining a bit of the new song. However, by the chorus, we’re aggressively catapulted into heavy guitar and vocals, and the song maintains this tone for its remainder.

I was immediately unimpressed with the lyrical content. In the “Night Driver” days, I almost believed that a stipulation of Charlie Simpson’s return to Busted was that James Bourne had to grow up lyrically; making fewer pop culture references that make the songs sound juvenile.

However, the more I listened, the more the song grew on me, and eventually, I realized what that feeling was. Nostalgia for a time long passed. Nostalgia for the days that I was obsessed with the sounds of OG Busted and McFly (easily the most influential band of my teenage and young adult years). Of course, this is the lyrical point behind the song, and while I couldn’t relate directly to the age that they were singing about, I could relate to it in my own way as I struggle to adjust to the trials of adulthood, particularly trying times, and wanting to go back to simpler times.

So in this particular case, for particularly complex reasons, “Nineties” has grown on me. However, I do hope for more from the new record, and that Busted continues to progress rather than digress.

Jackie Goff can be reached at popdiversifies@gmail.com or @jackiemaemusic on Twitter.

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