Even though they were at home on the Ecstatic Peace roster (thanks to guitarist/singer Jonas Stein’s other band, Be Your Own Pet, being signed to the label), Tubo Fruits have always belonged on (mostly) blues label Fat Possum. They may shit-kick harder than every other band on the label (minus maybe Wavves), but Turbo Fruits are just as bluesy as they are punky. Their self-titled debut had a bleary-eyed downer about not having enough drugs, and if that’s not a 20-year-old’s vision of the blues, I don’t know what is.
It’s fitting, then, that Fat Possum is releasing Echo Kid, Turbo Fruits’ slashing sophomore album, and first since Be Your Own Pet bit the dust in summer of 2008. Echo Kid is about the same topics that Turbo Fruits was (girls, drugs, girls and drugs), but with an increased attention to songcraft. Turbo Fruits (and Stein in particular) will likely never cut off ties to the break-neck, fuck-all punk they made their name on, but here they’re willing to slow these songs down (a bit) to give them time to breathe.
A revving motorcycle is the first noise on Echo Kid, which is as good as a metaphor as any for how Turbo Fruits attack the album’s 12 songs. Raucous rip-sawers like “Trouble,” “Want Some Mo,” “Lotta Lotta Ladies” and the epic (for Turbo Fruits, at least) four-minute “Dear Moses” are the album’s backbone, delivering exactly what you’d expect from a sometime member of one this generation’s best punk bands.
But it’s on the stoned-Replacements-esque groove of “Mama’s Mad Cos I Fried My Brain,” “Naked With You,” the Nuggets-era garage rock ditty, the road-weary “On the Road” and the excellent one-night stand tale of “Sadie” (“you saved me from two kids and a wife” Stein croaks) that the band makes a bid for long-term legitimacy that isn’t normally heard on punk-rock albums. It was all too easy to brush aside Turbo Fruits when the band was doing straightforward, blues-tinged punk. Echo Kid makes that less than possible.