Thursday, May 14, 2009


Below is the original, pre-edit version of this review:

Ear Pwr
Super Animal Brothers III

If a pop-techno album ever warranted its own Surgeon General's Warning label, Super Animal Brothers III is it. Something along the lines of: "This disc contains high does of sacharrine and obnoxious cuteness that may trigger diabetic comas in some listeners. Do not ingest more than once in a single 72-hour period."

What Ear Pwr's Sarah Reynolds and Devin Booze - formerly based outta North Carolina, now carpetbagger nesting in Bodymore - proffer is gut-pummelling, Fruity Pebbles bpms and madcap, dance-til-you-drop twee that's all puerile, cartoon surface. And it flashes by in a neon blur as dumb-happy as it is pleasure-point stabbing: tension-racheting "You Are The Bomb" taking that bit of urban-originating vernacular seriously in thirty fleeting seconds of MacGruber silliness, "Boys II Volcanoes" squishing chopped chimes and virtuoso melisma into relentless nonsense about skulls in the sea, aerobic "Beam of Light" pressing and holding the "puree" button on the synth blender until you're afraid your ears will pop - at which point the song begins to careen from that churn into I Am The World Trade Center ripoff fodder, and back. (See also: "Future Eyes.") Both bands employ bright, halogen synths and shameless pop hooks, but IATWTC's music had the benefit of being about actual emotions; Ear Pwr aim for giggles. The title track spikes Woody Woodpecker glowstick hyperactivity with hip-hop woot-woots and animal-buddy babble; "Sparkley Sweater" is a chiptune earworm about a sparkley sweater, while cheeseballin' skitterfest "Cats is People, Too" has something to do with kittens in pyramids and randomly quotes Rammstein's 1997 hit "Du Hast."

Yet there's something to be said for music this singlemindedly uninhibited, this merrily shallow, this steamrollering: it allows those of us who'll never mix twenty Twinkies and a can of Jolt into a Love It-sized milkshake from Cold Stone Creamery to imagine how the experience of gulping that down en route to a dancefloor might feel. Ear Pwr harness and simulate the heedless energy spring is supposed to trigger within us all. Who can blame them for channeling it into charmingly vapid songs like "Diamonds Liquor Leather," with its helium-balloon synth-squiggles and nyah-nyah "I'll do the dealing if you'll do the wheeling/We'll make lots of money and it will be funny" refrains? And, honestly, who among us doesn't just need this kind of cut-loose malarkey now and again?

Dan Deacon, watch your back; everybody else, keep a watchful eye on your glucose levels while reeling in Ear Pwr's Super Happy Fun Ball (still legal in most states) zone.

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