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The Presidents of The United States of America - These Are The Good Times People

Presidents Of The United States of America, These Are The Good Times People

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 4 out of 5

YOU can always count on The Presidents of the United States of America for a good lyric. Remember: “Lump sat alone in a boggy marsh, totally emotionless except for her heart, Mud flowed up into lump’s pajamas, she totally confused all the passing pihranas” from Lump? Or: “Movin’ to the country gonna eat a lot of peaches,” from, erm, Peaches.

Well, the band behind such crazy, kooky, rock-driven gems are back with a new album, These Are The Good Times People and an all-new set of freaky songs. Take album opener Mixed Up SOB, which contains such gems as “she held her breath and turned her face all red, that’s how they found her in her bed all dead… she’s a mixed up son of a bitch”. It may not be PC per se, but there’s a joyfully endearing enthusiasm surrounding the song that makes you glad to have them back.

Indeed, there’s much about These Are The Good Times People that embraces the spirit of the band’s 4.5 million selling eponymous debut and songs like Lump and Peaches. The guitars are crisp and lively, the melodies (both vocal and instrumental) upbeat and fun, and the overall vibe a guilty pleasure of fratboy-style rock fun.

The album was recorded with Northwest legends The Fastbacks’ and Young Fresh Fellows own Kurt Bloch (Robyn Hitchcock) and mixed by Martin Feveyear and is certain to appeal to anyone who gets their musical kicks from the likes of Fountains of Wayne (Stacey’s Mom), They Might Be Giants and The Hives.

Ladybug is another smart performer, choc full of playful lyrics and boasting an instantly catchy hook, while Sharpen Up Those Fangs is just a really lively performer that harks back to a summer sunshine vibe.

The capacity for nutty songwriting continues on More Bad Times, which opens with the lyrics: “You never had rabies, you never gained weight, you never drank poison, you watched what you ate…. you never got measles, you never got gout… you twisted your ankle, I carried you, you got a divorce so I married you… I wish there were more bad times to see you through.” But it’s a damn fine song to boot, with some brilliant guitar work, making it an anthem for the romantics that don’t like to indulge in too much slush.

The fun continues throughout French Girl, which takes a cheeky pop at French moodiness (“don’t ever get involved with a French girl”), the country-tinged, bootleg-laced Truckstop Butterfly (which boasts some nice banjo), and the punky Ghosts Are Everywhere.

Shins fans (and Zack Braff) are sure to dig the beautifully melodic Loose Balloon, which is one of the album’s clear highlights, Hives fans will get off on the manic energy of Flame Is Love, and there’s a touch of the Weezer about <>i>So Lo So Hi.

Late on, the album threatens to run out of steam and becomes a little less diverse during Poor Turtle and Warhead, but lyrically it remains worth listening to, while final track Deleter ends things in supremely sassy fashion, cutting a funky strut towards the finishing line with some additional vocals from Fysah Thomas.

The overall result is an album of American-influenced rock that stands out because of the adventurous, often humorous, nature of its songwriting. It’s a guilty pleasure to savour again and again. Like its title suggests, the good times are there for everyone to hear.

Download picks: Mixed Up SOB, Loose Balloon, Flame Is Love, Deleter, More Bad Times, Ladybug

Track listing:

  1. Mixed Up SOB
  2. Ladybug
  3. Sharpen Up Those Fangs
  4. Bad Times
  5. French Girl
  6. Truckstop Butterfly
  7. Ghosts Are Everywhere
  8. Loose Balloon
  9. Flame Is Love
  10. So Lo So Hi
  11. Poor Turtle
  12. Rot In The Sun
  13. Warhead
  14. Deleter