Brian J. Dillard
You've gotta love the UK pop process. It's so democratic. Anybody who manages to get into the charts once automatically becomes a serious artist, gets a write-up in The Face and inks a three-album deal. By December of the next year, crazed fans are betting their pension funds on whether their new idol will be Christmas No. 1. Then the backlash begins....

And so it goes with Sheffield techno pranksters The All-Seeing Eye. The trio - composed of Jason Buckle, Dean Honer and "Parrot" Barrett - have already scored the one-two pop punch of "Beat Goes On" and "Walk Like a Panther." Now, they're ready to reveal their most amazing trick yet: They're actually really good. "1st Man in Space" finds them collaborating with the Human League, palling around again with Jarvis Cocker, and paving the way for their sure-to-be triumphant debut album. All in all, it's a corker of a single.
Over one of those wacka-wacka grooves they seem to do so well, the group provide a cheeky update of Sir Elton John's "Rocket Man," written by Cocker and delivered in a debonair baritone by synth-pop pioneer Phil Oakey. "I'm floating like God in his heaven/High in the stratosphere," the Human League singer intones. "Darling come quick - you can see our house from here." With lyrics like that, the group could have devised a far less fun backing track and still held my interest.

It helps that the b-sides are so great - all four of 'em. "Sweet Music" is a roiling deep house confection that combines 4 a.m. grooves with the blue-eyed soul vocals of guest singer Boz. This is the track gusgus spent their entire last album trying to compose. The one-off experiment "Luxury," meanwhile, builds its thrash guitars up to a fever pitch before burying them in a tidal wave of Joey Beltram-style bass drone. It's weird, it's wacky, it's fun. "Dirty Slapper" provides six minutes of gritty, swirling digital funk, while the lumbering electro crunch of "No Pop I" reveals the group's ties to the Warp/Rephlex intelligent techno empire.

It's this ability to churn out inventive electronic textures that will save this band from itself. History is littered with crossover acts that gave up on the beats after they tasted pop gold. But if they keep this up, the I may just become Top of the Pops regulars with their integrity intact. We'll see about that backlash.