Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

M People: Bizarre Fruit [Epic, 1995]
Second time out they're obliged to prove their staying power--not just produce a new batch of sure shots, but add the weight of a few slow grooves and tokens of conscience, with no beginner's backlog or U.K. singles-only to fill in the blanks. So, as is only human, they don't go all the way. Michael Pickering and Steve Heard like to say that their songs are getting more soulful and meaningful, but the deepest meaning they have to offer is bound up in their formal commitment to what's most frivolous in classic disco--the fun positivity of Saturday night fever. Only the one about heroes is altogether leaden, and "Drive Time" is the radio move of every club band's prospectus. But where Elegant Slumming was pure pleasure machine, this stops at intensely likable--a band record rather than a producers' record, with trickier percussion and subtler hooks. A-