Next month the B-52s will release their first album in 16 years. The eponymous single "Funplex" is now playing on certain radio stations. You can also hear it for free on the band's MySpace page or pay to download it on iTunes.
Having heard the song, I have to say that it is definitely classic B-52s. 16 years do not seem to have changed the band's sound very much. Perhaps there is a little more electronica here than past songs, but that's about it.
This is interesting when taken in conjunction with a recently published study from Stanford University which shows that the human brain naturally reacts to all B-52s songs with a very specific pattern of activity. I don't know if the researchers had the chance to use the song "Funplex" in their experiments, but I see (hear?) no reason to suspect that it would be any different. This is how it works:
When first exposed to a B-52's song, the sections of the brain responsible for the fight-or-flight response are activated. Seen here in blue, the stimulated areas suggest that brain interprets the initial input of the song as a threat or attack. The listener does not like, and may be frightened by, the song.
About 1/3 to 1/2 way through the song, the fight-or-flight centers quite down and there is a very slight stimulation of the Brown/Jackson cortex, seen here in red in the upper-right corner and green in the lower left-hand corner. This is the area of the brain that controls involuntary rhythmic movements like foot-tapping and head-bobbing. This stimulation continues to grow throughout the song. When asked, the listener now deems the song to be "interesting."
Then, 2/3 to 3/4 of the way through the song, the Waters/Midler Lobe, the part of the brain that regulates appreciation of high camp, lights up like a slot machine on triple sevens. The explosion of activity in this area is accompanied by the brain dumping a boatload of endorphins into the bloodstream.
The listener now claims to enjoy the song.
The study also looked at long term effects and determined that for 20 years following initial exposure, whenever the B-52s song in question is heard, the brain will send out chemical signals that cause the listener to involuntarily say "Hey!" and turn the radio up.