Fundamental by Mental as Anything

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Fundamental by Mental as Anything
Fundamental by Mental as Anything

Album Released: 1985

Fundamental ::: Artwork

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1.You're So Strong3:25
2.Big Wheel4:41
3.Live It Up4:12
4.Surf And Mull And Sex And Fun3:39
5.Good Friday4:27
6.Date With Destiny3:00
7.Hold On3:08
8.Stones Of The Heart3:17
9.I Just Wanna Be Happy3:28
11.Bus Ride2:55


The Australian band Mental As Anything straddle the boundary between being 'serious' musicians and a tongue-in-cheek novelty act, a rather curious spot to occupy in the musical spectrum.

That's perfectly encapsulated in their most well-known song, the hit single "If You Leave Me, Can I Come Too" - a song that was both genuinely poignant but also endowed with a wry sense of humour, as reflected in the title.

It's tricky, being a 'goodtime' band that on the one hand aims to be light-hearted and good-humoured, but also aspires to be taken seriously as musicians. Happily, this album demonstrates that Mental As Anything are quite adept at such a balancing act.

For whilst the songs here all have a rather melancholic tone lyrically speaking, they are presented in a distinctly jaunty manner, in part due to the uptempo dance rhythms, but mainly thanks to the rather cheesy Farfisa-style organ or synth lines, that lend the album the air of a funfair or circus. That, combined with the droll irony of the band's lyrics, is the fusion that generates Mental As Anything's bittersweet music.

There's a certain amount of cheeky parody going on here too. The 5 star opener "You're So Strong" has a chorus that is a dead ringer for Fine Young Cannibals, the 4 star "Big Wheel" is reminiscent of electro-pop bands like Blancmange or Reflex, and the 5½ star "Date With Destiny" has an arrangement that brings to mind The Associates ... all bands that were contemporaries of Mental As Anything.

But Mental As Anything certainly aren't copyists, on this album they sit right on the edge of the mid-80's synth-pop scene, but keeping one eye on non-genre mainstream pop, thus they completely lack the pretensions that sub-genre's like pure electro-pop often exhibit. For what was after all originally just a bunch of bored art students clowning around, they've proved to be remarkably durable, and have produced some fine songs along the way.

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by Reviewer: bluemoon

This Mental As Anything album was the one that brought Greedy Smith to the fore. Three hit singles taken from it, "You're So Strong", "Date With Destiny", and - most of all - "Live It Up", were all penned and sung by him, and for a while it was like the band was almost all about the smiling keyboardist.

"Live It Up" in particular gathers together all the good-natured aspects of the band (they also had a darkish side) into one irresistibly charming pop single that never gets old, although the other two singles are no less engaging.

There are plenty of other appealing songs here as well, from the trio of Mombassa songs on the second half (either sung by Reg himself or Martin Plaza), to Plaza's own compositions, which are characteristically more on the moody side, no more curiously so than with the album's final song "Bus Ride". On that, Plaza's car isn't working, so he gets what one could call broodingly excited about catching the bus instead - I climbed aboard and took a seat, satisfied that I would meet so many people there. and every single one was rare on my bus ride.

Fundamental (sometimes called Fundamental As Anything) finds the Mentals at their consistent best, with a collection of droll, charming, and witty pop that drove the album to major success in Australia, helped by that trio of memorable radio-friendly Greedy tracks.

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by Reviewer: The Doctor