Wild Mercury Sound

Be Your Own Pet: "Get Awkward"

John Mulvey

After all the mature, relatively sedate stuff I’ve been writing about recently like Roedelius and the Imaginational Anthems “Primitive American Guitar” comp, something a bit livelier today.

Be Your Own Pet, you may remember, were the subject of some hype on both sides of the Atlantic a couple of years back, being a bunch of smart-ass Nashville teenagers who took the Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ initial punky imperative and made hay with it. They made much more of a racket than most of their NME contemporaries, and consequently I liked them a lot more – not just because Thurston Moore released them on Ecstatic Peace in the States, a label that’s been praised ad nauseam at Wild Mercury Sound over the past year.

Be Your Own Pet also sired Turbo Fruits, who I got fairly excited about, too. But anyway, the new BYOP arrived the other day. It’s called “Get Awkward”, and it’s excellent. The Yeah Yeahs Yeahs comparison is still valid: there’s that same tearaway exuberance that marked the first YYY EP especially, with that faint goth edge brought by Nick Zinner conspicuously absent here.

There’s also an incredibly knowing pastiche of teenage manners in the lyrics. In fact, it’s hard to remember that Jemina Pearl is only just 20; her evocation of brattish American neuroses are so sharply, cutely hokey, so removed from actual trauma, so parodically bitchy. “Becky”, which reminds me a bit of one of those shambolic high school ramalams on the last Black Lips album, features references to slumber parties, secret crushes, friendship bracelets and the line, “You signed my yearbook and that was pretty rad.” On the cover she is caught talking on a white dial phone while wearing rollerskates. I imagine she’s wryly in love with Chachi, or at least Joey Ramone.

Pearl can sing, too. She has a great full-bodied, melodic yowl, surprisingly soulful in the context of so many ramalams; “You’re A Waste” especially, which is uncharacteristically close to a ballad, proves there’s plenty of depth to explore in the future.

For the time being, though, I’m quite happy with her and her bandmates sticking with the goofy, accelerating bubblegum hardcore of songs like “Blow Your Mind” and “Bummer Time”. They play great, they’re snarky as hell, and as long as they write songs as good as these 15 little neon exclamation marks, we can stay friends.


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