They should be applauded for proving they can still deliver an album that's so much fun.
Chris White 2008
They may not have released a studio album for 16 long years, but within a few seconds of the start of comeback release Funplex, it's as if the B-52's have never been away. Opening track, Pump, comes bursting out of the traps with all the Atlanta, Georgia group's familiar hallmarks – an irresistible synth riff, pounding drums, a punky guitar hook and Kate Pierson's unmistakeable soaring vocals. They may all be well into their fifties, but you wouldn't know it as their uncomplicated party-rock still sounds as young and fresh as ever.
The rest of Funplex won't disappoint their fans either. Loud, brash and raunchy numbers like Ultraviolet and Hot Corner are joyously infectious, while the title track is a perfect microcosm of the B-52's artless hedonism, with lyrics that seem to revel in their own cartoonish inanity. However, the record's undoubted high point is Deviant Ingredient, a Love Shack for the 21st century featuring some gloriously trashy girl/boy vocal interchanges between Pierson and the splendidly drawling Fred Schneider.
On the odd occasions when Funplex tries to stray from its tried and tested formula, the results are less impressive. Producer Steve Osbourne, who includes New Order, Doves and KT Tunstall on his CV, was presumably brought on board to ensure the 2008 version of the B-52's has the contemporary sheen to avoid being merely a nostalgia act, but his influence is largely imperceptible. Juliet Of The Spirits gives a passable St Etienne impression, but the intermittent echoes and sonic whooshes elsewhere add little, particularly on the limp Love In The Year 3000.
There's little point arguing against the overwhelming evidence that the B-52's are a one trick pony, but in their defence they have never aspired to be a Bowie or a Dylan, and they do what they do very well indeed. In the words of their guitarist Keith Strickland, Funplex is ''loud, sexy rock and roll for your pleasure zones'' and after nearly two decades of inactivity, he and his band mates should be applauded for proving they can still deliver an album that's so much fun.