EP Review: B*witched – Champagne or Guinness
Over the last few years we have seen plenty of bands from the nineties and early noughties touch back down on the charts and also just as many fall by the wayside as they attempt to resuscitate a career that fizzled out for whatever reason. For 80’s born music fans like myself whose teenage years were spent watching Top of the Pops, reading Smash Hits magazine and recording nineties pop songs on a cassette tape from the radio, the announcement of the hugely popular ITV show The Big Reunion was met with one of the biggest applauses. The show began in 2013 and during its first season reunited chart-topping 90’s groups B*witched, 5ive, Atomic Kitten, Honeyz, Liberty X, 911 and latecomers Blue, for a fly-on-the-wall series which ended with a final performance at the Hammersmith Apollo in London where the bands would, after many years out of the pop spotlight, perform for their fans for the first time in over 10 years.
During the first season we heard several of the bands confess to the show being closure on their time together and for the experience to be a final bow to recording and performing as a collective. Thankfully Irish quarter B*witched weren’t one of those bands and since their time on the show they have been gearing up for a highly anticipated relaunch into the world of pop music.
During the 90’s the band – sisters Keavy and Edele Lynch, Lindsay Armaou and Sinéad O’Carroll – found their stride following the enormous successful of their debut single, C’est la Vie, which hit the top spot in the charts back in 1998. The track introduced us to 4 spritely Irish lasses who loved denim and a good old fashioned Irish jig. The single catapulted the group immediately into public consciousness and paved the way for a further 3 consecutive number one singles in the shape of Rollercoaster, To You I Belong and Blame It On The Weatherman. Good times didn’t last very long for the girl group however with the band being dropped by their label and their split was confirmed in 2002.
Fast forward a decade and the girls are back with as much energy and Irish charm as ever and a brand new EP, Champagne or Guinness which has recently been fronted by lead single, the appropriately titled The Stars Are Ours.
The new release features a brief but memorable batch of mainly upbeat new pennings to reintroduce new fans and reacquaint old fans with the Irish outfit. The strumming of a steel string guitar cracks the lid on the EP with high octane opener Love and Money.The number has a Kelly Clarkson quality about it, reminding us of Clarkson’s hit single Since You Were Gone purely because of the use of the guitar to open the song which I think gives the song a much more mature sound than we were afforded back in the groups hey-day. The B*witched stamp is all over this one as the girls unleash an early up-tempo nugget, singing about girls loving guys, guys loving girls, champagne, caviar and expensive cars. It’s a fine way to start the new EP and thankfully with the following Fighting For The Drop, the momentum is kept steady with a track that showcases the quartet’s skilled and distinctive vocal style and catchy line-dance worthy instrumentation thanks to a banjo adding a flavoursome licking of country to the song.
The EP’s title track takes us back to where the band left us when they last dominated the charts with a song reminiscent of the good old days of hook heavy 90’s pop music. A piano guides the girls as they tell us of going out and getting crazy on a Friday night.
While the majority of the new EP surrenders itself to up-tempo pop, token ballad We’ve Forgotten How proves that the group are still able to deliver a solid ballad. The chorus is catchy and provides the number with its hearty hook while the use of a cello within the track is nothing short of goose-bump inducing as it hums in the background. I’m a sucker for strings in a pop song so thank you B*witched. This is easily one of the best inclusions within this short collection .
While We’ve Forgotten How injects a nice slice of down-tempo to the EP, it certainly doesn’t create a dip with the following Waiting All This Time pulling together an instrumentally bustling track full of hand claps, an energetic fiddle and some good old fashioned foot stomping while the vocal arrangement of the song boasts a countrified vibe with moments nearing the end of the track sounding reminiscent of a hit that Dolly Parton might write.
Ending the EP is the bands comeback single The Stars Are Ours. It’s certainly a fine single to make a comeback with, that’s for sure. The single claims an acoustic verse structure while the contrasting chorus propels us into dance-floor territory and offers the EP with a vibrant, colourful hit.
Champagne or Guinness is a fantastic comeback collection from the Irish sweethearts that will definitely thrill fans who have remained patient for the long overdue return of the group and their modernised style will appeal to a brand new audience as the quartet prepares to take over the pop world once again. Champagne or Guinness is definitely one of the finest releases to come out of pop music in 2014.