I have a question: do you like your music delivered with a burning intensity? A heart-wrenching cry? A tone so serious that it could hush the birds in the trees and calm a riot with a single gesture? You won’t be needing this in your collection then.
Emerging eleven years ago from a Seattle grunge scene in its death throes still mourning the loss of its leader, The Presidents of the United States of America (abbreviated herein as PUSA) blasted happy hand-polished nuggets of feelgood bubblegum pop-rock in all directions. The Presidents Of The United States Of America was the name of the debut album they recorded which would generate far more revenue for Columbia Records than the paltry $8,000 it cost PUSA to produce, and coincidentally it’s also the album that is being imminently reissued.
Despite spawning three UK hit singles ('Lump', 'Peaches' and 'Dune Buggy') it was quickly forgotten, due in part to its brevity and partly to its delivery. Its light-hearted nature is nothing you can really immerse yourself in - this is three-minute pop under a layer of fuzz and ludicrous lyricism; incessantly catchy, instantly accessible but as deep as Victoria Beckham and just as daft. Their complete inability to be serious in any way is never disguised, with everything from their skewed take on MC5’s 'Kick Out The Jams' and tales of spiders driving miniature buggies down the beach, to housebound weevils and the desire to eat a lot of soft fruit showcasing as little grip on reality as the real President. Coupled with lead singer Chris Ballew’s tendency to sound vaguely like Ernie from Sesame Street, the whole album feels like the Jim Henson Workshop riding a fuzzy, furry tidal wave of fun which you will either take an instant liking to or curse PUSA's existence every time 'Lump' fills the air. It’s enough to make connoisseurs of serious music die a little inside.
Ultimately, time has been kind to The Presidents Of The United States Of America. The landscape of pop isn’t that different now to how it was back in 1995 - fellow twee-rockers Weezer, They Might Be Giants and the Fountains of Wayne are still lurking somewhere, having barely had to change their sound. It’s not as if guitar-based pop-rock has gone out of fashion with the buying public either, (hi, Orson), but quite what merited this re-issue only a year on from when this album was released in remastered form with extra tracks is anyone's guess. It’s unlikely to bother the tills in your nearest record emporium, nor is it likely to cause an increase in songs about runaway salamanders, but it does serve as a low-price reminder of how care-free and charismatically immature music can be.
8ben marwood's Score