In response to having his music referred to as “childlike” over and over again by publication after publication, Ear Pwr’s aesthetic forebear, Dan Deacon, said “Getting pigeonholed sucks shit.” Devin Booze and Sarah Reynolds, who make up Ear Pwr, clearly don’t have that hang-up, since their entire busy, neon, sloppy, smiley aesthetic is devoted to maintaining a youthful image. Their album cover features two shirtless, awkward characters playing in a pile of Legos. They have song titles like “Sparkley Sweater,” “Cats Is People, Too” and “Boyz II Volcanoes.” If you walk into Ear Pwr’s sophomore album, Super Animal Brothers III, with cynicism guns a-blazin,’ you will sit in foaming contempt for 34 minutes, insulted that the members of Ear Pwr think that you, informed music fan, are stupid enough to buy their act. But how about we just take our fingers off the trigger and take it from there?
It would be really easy to dismiss Super Animal Brothers III and Ear Pwr as the work of two stylistically unimaginative young people who wanted to to do something “cool” while at the same time poke fun at all of the serious musicians whose work might seem silly at first glance. It’s so easy, in fact, that you can do that. Go ahead. How did it feel? I hope it felt good. To continue, Ear Pwr might very well be doing that, but I will give them the benefit of the doubt because they have gone through the trouble of recording an album and getting it a proper release.
Once you get past that, it’s pretty easy to discover that Ear Pwr and this album both have something very charming about them. It’s not perfectly executed or conceptually rich, but what did you expect? It’s an album called Super Animal Brothers III, which features a song called “Ghost Ride the Buffalo.”
The album suffers some from a slower second half, but the tone and intention stay consistent throughout. Vocalist Reynolds traipses around the record delivering absent-minded banalities and cheerleaderesque orders, while instrumentalist Booze crafts squirrely, repetetive, yet effective beats.
Of course, Ear Pwr is clearly aware of its own gimmicky nature. The pair chose all of those song titles with a purpose in mind. When Reynolds commands “Now everybody Chris Columbus,” during “Ghost Ride the Buffalo,” she knows full well that she’s delivering nonsense whose only intent is to match the self-conscious, carefree aesthetic. But more than once on this album that strategy succeeds, especially with earlier songs like “Future Eyes,” “Boyz II Volcanoes,” and the title track.
More often than you think, enjoying something is really a choice. In the case of Super Animal Brothers III, you can either sit down and dismiss Ear Pwr for daring to play a game with the music, or you can see the state of the board for what it is and roll the dice.