Drink Up Buttercup’s debut album is a travelogue of mutated hopscotch rock and acid-tinged absurdism. Seemingly adrift within a very loose structure of identities and voices, Born and Thrown on a Hook can sometimes feel like a compilation album of art projects and garage bands all helmed and connected by a single deranged ringleader.
Despite the stylistic differences from track to track, the band delivers an engaging and thoroughly listenable slab of slightly schizophrenic rock songs. A few interludes consisting of mad scientist organ doodles and atmospheric melody-thoughts act as the ligaments that tie together tracks as diverse as the Smiths-ish, moody slow-burner “Lovers Play Dead” (a murky, morbid and disarmingly playful acoustic guitar dirge) and “Heavy Hand,” a spazz-core psychedelic number awash in fuzz bass and a delirious scream-along chorus. The sometimes pranksterish joviality of late album cuts is nicely juxtaposed with some dark subject matter, like the excessive drinking and possible self-violence hinted at in the cartoony “Mr. Pie Eyes,” which contributes a bittersweet sting to the album’s bloody-chick-in-crisis cover art.
With tracks like “Pink Sunshine” delivering a certain brand of cobblestone Brit-pop influence, the album takes on a similar tone to the elastic pop sensibilities of Blur’s early releases. While the quirk-factor on album opener “Seasickness Pills” and White Album-lite “Young Ladies” can occasionally prove trying, there are plenty of highlights here that distinguish Drink Up Buttercup as a strong personality with a penchant for catchy melodics. The Dada romp of “Doggy Head” spins out of control almost immediately and accelerates into a dizzying other-world of computer-glitch folk. The band’s most straightforward track, “Even Think” is stronger for its natural tendency to veer toward weirdness and lead singer Jim Harvey’s vocal warble imbeds a consistent sense of self within the otherwise goofy-fun shenanigans.
Favorite Track: “Doggy Head”
Reviewer Bio - Christopher j Ewing is a writer and filmmaker living in Los Angeles with a girl and a designer dog. He is in a band by himself, has a myspace account at www.myspace.com/wastedpotentialproduction and a production company at (www.wastedpotentialproductions.com) for freelance film, video and journalism work.