Your doctor will be the first to tell you that releasing pent-up aggression in a constructive manner is the key to a long life. Countless musicians have done it, and many have made a pretty penny off their efforts. Omaha, Nebraska’s Beep Beep tries its hand at artistic therapy with Business Casual, and it’s definitely a release of aggression — the only question is whether it’s constructive.
This isn’t your typical Saddle Creek release: Filled with jagged guitars and pounding, shape-shifting rhythms, Beep Beep’s brand of danceable punk clashes with the label’s other offerings (except maybe the Faint’s crueler moments). The palm mutes and stabbing guitars that permeate the steady drums of “I Am the Secretary” signal the beginning of the assault, but “Oh No!” ups the ante. Where “Secretary” had a dash of melody, “Oh No!” substitutes rapid-fire guitar and a few yelps. New-wavy, rhythmic moments like “Misuse their Bodies” and “Electronic Wolves” provide short respite from the onslaught of spastic guitars, but the rest periods are few and far between.
And though the music is abrasive enough on its own, there’s also Chris Hughes’s voice to contend with. Imagine the louder moments of Enon’s John Schmersal amplified with a near-lethal dose of crystal meth and you’re about halfway there. Hughes intersperses laughing and shrieking on “Executive Foliage,” and the results test even the most calloused ears. The lyrics, for the most part, are forgettable when intelligible, covering everything from Internet porn to cynical takes on chasing after women, with little insight or poetic verse.
Beep Beep manages to balance its dynamic blitz with a sense of tunefulness on the aforementioned “Misuse” and closer “The Threat of Nature,” which, at four minutes long, qualifies as an epic here. But these moments are generally tossed overboard in favor of a relentless attack that dilutes the effect of their energy, which is clearly their selling point. Business Casual is only twenty-eight minutes long, but it’s a trying twenty-eight minutes.