Signs that this record is not entirely On Its Shit are apparent from the get-go: Side One, Track One (“Dance”) is a song about slow dancing, but it is not a number that can be slow danced to—which places it, of necessity, into the role of a sound-the-call-and-rally-the-troops-it’s-dancin’-time type album kicker-offer, which is foolish, because a song about wanting to slow dance implies that the main character, who represents both the singer and the listener, wishes to stop fast dancing at his earliest convenience, so he can slow dance: As a fast dance number with a built-in deathwish, the song essentially neutralizes itself, and makes as little sense as starting L.A.M.F. off with “Going Steady” would have. The second song would have been an okay second song if the first song was really great, but, as the first song was not really great, as first songs should be, the second song is forced into a role of delayed de facto first song, which it does not succeed at. The third song, “Don’t Tell Me It’s Wrong,” is a great third song, but third songs on albums like these are always a twinge more downbeat and wistful than the two which precede it, so now we’ve got an album that, for all practical purposes, skips the first two songs and comes in on the slightly more melancholy third song. Okay, fine. Song four, “Bound to Cry,” is an excellent fourth song; an uptempo potboiler if you will, but it is followed by the 6/8-time ballad “Lonesome Tears,” which, at Side One, Track Five, is in the exact right spot for a 6/8-time ballad (if you believe in that sort of thing), yet it also unfortunately kills the late-developing momentum developed by the third and fourth songs. Side One ends with a cover of the Flamin’ Groovies’ “Let Me Rock” with new lyrics added by Fever B on accounta the original ones are unanimously unintelligible. I am neutral on this song because no one yells “oh, skooby-doo-oo!” at the end. The historically important Side Two, Track One spot (important because the first songs on each side of a vinyl record are the two most likely to be played by beleaguered DJs since they require much less time to cue up than other tracks) goes to the title track. I am kinda unimpressed with it. It sounds like one o’ those songs where the inconvenience of it being not-so-hot of a song blinds people to the fact that, it is, in fact, not-so-hot of a song. The record’s fate is sealed: This is… But the Little Girls Understand to their first album’s Get the Knack. Sandwiched between an okay Side Two, Track Two and a completely blah Side Two, Track Six, however, is the album’s secret fizzy center: Three tracks of perfect bubblegum—a cover of the 1910 Fruitgum Company’s “Get Your Luvin,” the “are-you-sure-Lancelot-Link-and-the-Evolution-Revolution-never-did-this” bittersweet kindergarten genius of “Photobooth,” and “My Iy Iy,” a song of such amazing gummi-perfection that i swore it was on some Buddah Records thing that i couldn’t find until i contacted the band and found out that they wrote it in like 1997 or something (he calls her at one; she’s out having fun. He calls her at eight; she’s out on a date. How the guy managed to make it through the entire song without saying I call you at six, you’re out sucking dicks is beyond me). By my count, the band goes about 5 or 6 for 12 here—disappointing but not devastatingly so. Dammit, entropy is what always actually wins. Ask around. BEST SONG: “My Iy Iy” BEST SONG TITLE: “My Iy Iy” FANTASTIC AMAZING TRIVIA FACT: The “WHAT? WHALE” pseudo-record-label-insignia on the cover is a parody of White Whale Records, best known for being the Turtles’ label.
–norb (Screaming Apple)