If PPG head cheerleader Shonen Knife ever loses the twee spirit and goes Goth and Craig McCracken sends them packing, he’d do well to flag down the pop-crazy ladies of the All Girl Summer Fun Band, the Portland quartet that’s more bubbles than buttercup and more fluff than peanut butter.
It is unfortunate that the fickle finger of originality has not tickled this group. 2, their sophomore release (duh), is as uninspired as it is stock girly pop. It’s the Go-Go’s, the Breeders, and the Waitresses thrown in the wash with a renegade red pair of Hello Kitty underwear. Comes out pink. And meowing.
And hello, Kitty. “Inarticulation,” with clipped vocals evocative of Knife anthem “Catnip Dreams,” is better left to catnap in Fresh Step. “They look like they are falling asleep/ That isn’t something that I like to see.” Girls, girls. Turn up the amp. Stroll through a thesaurus. Might help.
The following track, “Day Dreaming,” might warrant Breeders bassist Josephine Wiggs’ attention, however. A dreamy, subdued bass line from Ari Douangpanya (who’s also played with Def Leopard) leads the sleepy “I’m day dreaming” refrain in a well-deserved break from the pet sounds of Blue Crush sing-a-longs. It’s like “No Aloha” for the twee kitten crew. The Aloha is brief.
As their name is long, the album is brief. At 29 minutes, the Girls uncover an obvious lack of substance to fill the album’s 14 tracks, which end up sounding tailored toward the lollipop-licking, wide-eyed under-ten demographic. This apparent absence of creativity is overcompensated with a plethora of tambourining and tinny cymbals that make up a half-hour of frivolous novelty rock. The AGSFB simply hovers at the twine mark with cliched boyfriend talk and sunburnt, beach bunny pop. Girls, guitars and candy bars. Band or brownie-baking Girl Scout troop?
While I found myself drumming at the wheel more than once – their tunes are catchy enough to nod along to – the band doesn’t exhibit the kind of ambition that’s necessary to fuel itself beyond the periphery of recycled sha-na-na-na’s and oh-oh-oh’s. At best, AGSFB is cute and fun. Or, fun and cute. Whatever sounds cuter.
A good place for this record is in my anime-crazy sister’s Easter basket in between a couple of marshmallow peeps and Hamtaro (“little hamsters, big adventures”) DVD’s. You may find yourself taking a bite when your tummy grumbles, but it’s 29 minutes of CD that will get stale sooner than later.