I'd be a beagle. What would you be?
I read something in Metro yesterday morning about how Be Your Own PET are a low-budget Yeah Yeah Yeahs (or something like that anyway). Having not heard the album yet, I am not in a position to agree or disagree with that assertion. I'll let you know what I think in a half-hour. Why so soon? Well, accordingly to the fantastically in-depth promotional garb, the average song length is 2:20. That's 140 seconds. There's fifteen songs on the album, so 15 times 140 is 2100 - divide by 60 to get it back into minutes - and you're left with 35. 35 minutes. I'll be back in the pub and half-way through a game of Bullseye before you can say "super-smashing-great".
When I read that Be Your Own PET is a band made up of teenagers, I was immediately suspicious - not to mention a little scared. After all, what if they turned out to be another Hanson? I wasn't sure I could take it. But, being the big, brave soldier that I am, (according to my long-suffering mother) I read on.
Disaster...I read their names: Jamin (drums), Jonas (guitar), Nathan (bass) and Jemina (singer). Apart from sounding like the soon-to-be-deceased cast of a low-budget horror movie, (or, accordingly to a friend a bunch of dolls - though what this guy is doing playing with dolls at the age of thirty is beyond me) the name Jemina sounds a little too close to Jemima for comfort. Upon hearing the latter, I am always immediately transported back to my early childhood and days spent watching Big Ted and Little Ted try and push a triangle-shaped object through a triangle-shaped hole - for no apparent reason other than to annoy the fuck out of me. I always tried to convince my mother to switch to Batfink instead. She usually didn't. I cried...a lot.
Anyway, back to Be Your own PET...could these racy little youngsters impress me? Let's see...
"Thresher's Fail" is a merry melange of distortion-dripping guitars, fuzzy bass and rock-steady drums. While bearing a tertiary resemblance to Karen O; Jemina Pearl's vocals are softer, glossier and are certainly far more mature and accomplished than one would expect from a chick born in 1987. 1987?! In 1987 I was still dicking around with MASK toys and pretending I was MacGyver because I had a Swiss Army Knife and could pick the garage door lock with it. Anyway, Billie Piper she ain't and on "Bunk Trunk Skunk", she explodes with disaffected attitude "I'm an independent mutha-fucker/and I'm here to take your money/I'm wicked rad and I'm here/to steal away your virginity". Egad, Jeeves!
"Bicycle, Bicycle, You Are My Bicycle" is an amusing thrash-pop romp with some great drum licks, while "Wildcat!" and "Adventure" demonstrate a measured, contemplative approach (tight arrangement bolted to progressively focussed lyrics) with a definite and, one would suspect, proudly worn Yeah, Yeah, Yeahs influence.
"Fuuuuuun" (I had to count the "u"'s thrice on that one) is just that, brimming with zealous enerrrrrrgy and chuuuuuutzpah (qualities which I suspect are attributable to their youth - they'll suffer when they get to my age) and evoke the punk-rock attitudes of the John Peel-era Kenickie and the who-gives-a-shit musings of The Donnas.
It all gallops on at a frentic pace and before you realise where you are, you hit "Stairway to Heaven". It ain't a cover of the Led Zepp classic (thank Christ - the world doesn't need that) but does include a great pastiche of the original to close. "Bog" is absolutely hilarious - if, like me, you have a sick and ultimately puerile sense of humour - this definitely needs a release as a single. Come on now, who wouldn't find the idea of drowning someone in a bog funny? Stephen Hawking probably - but then he'd probably get his own back by electrocuting you if you tried it.
"We Will Vacation, You Can Be My Parasol" is a riff-heavy melodic beast, with a great single-note guitar break, while the band slow it down even further with "October, First Account" and head into more art-school-indie-pop territory. BUT...it's only for the briefest of moments - back to all-systems-go punk with "Love Your Shotgun" and "Fill My Pill" - both imbued with more attitude than Mr. T after discovering he's just had his tyres slashed.
So, what about Metro? Is Be Your Own PET Yeah Yeah Yeah's-Lite? Yes and no. There are obvious superficial similarities (the stripped production, the vocal styling and the trash-punk influence) but ultimately, Be Your Own PET deserve a lot of respect for making a damn decent album at such a young age. Musically, it's undeniably great - far more mature than you'd expect - tight, precise and yet fantastically chaotic - there's a spirit, an energy, it fizzes with nitro and bubbles like a ton of sour cola bottles on your tongue. Lyrically, it's great too. Yeah, I'll admit that at times it's a little stupid but it's the sound of youthful exuberance - and you shouldn't be fooled - there's also a lot on this album to take seriously. If you think that "The Breakfast Club" accurately represents America's youth...think again...and get out of my sight. This is where it's really at.
I'm off to try and hit that treble-twenty. If I was a rock 'n' roll youngster like these guys, I'd be trying to drown someone in a lavatory. Getting old sucks. This album rocks.