Wheatus is a showcase for the songs of singer/guitarist Brendan B. Brown, who has a taste for catchy, guitar-driven pop/rock, a gift for gab, and a snotty attitude. "Teenage Dirtbag," Brown's anthem for high school losers (featured, appropriately, in Amy Heckerling's film Loser), which combines humiliation with humor and even a happy ending, is carried along on familiar riffs, a hooky chorus, and smart-aleck lyrics. And that's the story for most of the songs on this album, though Brown reveals broader experience in a heartfelt cover of the Erasure hit "A Little Respect" and sounds less like a high school student than an aspiring rock star impatient with his record company publicist on "Hey, Mr. Brown." Whatever their nominal subjects, from the perils of obsessive romance ("Love Is a Mutt From Hell") to a white boy's hapless attempts to acquire hip-hop culture ("Wannabe Gangstar"), Brown's songs appeal because of their peppy pop/rock energy and the clever lyrics. This is a guy who refers more than once to Iron Maiden but whose music is more suggestive of Cheap Trick (especially on "Leroy," which recalls "Surrender"), and all the better for it. Bassist Rich Liegey, who left the band before the release of this record, has one song, "Punk Ass Bitch," that shows he's no slouch as a songwriter either and makes you wonder what his next project will be. But Brown is more than capable of handling the load, and with any luck this relatively short album will be the beginning of a great career.
Monday 22nd May 2017
Price: £17.50 advance (+stbf)