I Bificus (Lava/Atlantic)
by Ryk McIntyre
The Lilith Fair would’ve had (and you’ll pardon the expression) a lot more balls if they’d invited this fearless woman. On her second U.S. release,Bif Naked has a bigger sound vocally, and a bigger production behind her, giving her bigger shapes to play with, song-wise. And, as usual, she tackles a wide variety of styles with the same fearlessness that she tackles subjects like sex and sexuality, rape, abortion, and marrying your drummer. The opening track, “I Died,” nods at late-’70s rock intros, with strings/keyboards launching into power chords. Shades of St. Joan of Jeff. “Lucky” soars with the best ballad they ever dragged a piano out on stage for some big-hair rocker to get all sensitive over. Actually, it sounds like Sarah McLaughlin with cajones sewn on.
On “The Peacock Song,” Bif gives a run through late ’70s Brit-Punk, and “Twitch” has some clever references to “All Day And All Of The Night” as well as “My Boyfriend’s Back.” My favorite track is a three-way tie between the gently loping “Any Day Now” with its electric piano riff, the cautionary “Violence” with its muscular groove, and “Spaceman,” a track that takes me back to the days of Todd Rundgren’s Utopia with its soaring chorus. Bif has managed a neat feat here, combining the best elements of tough girl rock (think Pat Benetar, Patty Smythe, DiVinyls) with the muscle of Joan Jett and L7, yet infusing it with personal touch. At her best, she reminds me of first two Peter Gabriel solo records. The only shortcoming here is that she didn’t end the CD with a poem like she did on her first release. It’s too bad, but I hear she released at least two spoken word CDs in Canada. At least there’ll be something to fill the gap as we await the next chance to worship at her feet.