Friday, May 23, 2008

This Weekend In Minneapolis: The Birthday Suits, The Long Blondes

(Birthday Suits live in Chicago.)

Not one, but two opportunities to see garage-punk band Birthday Suits tonight. First, for an all-ages show at 5, second a 21+ show at 9. Both shows are $6 and are at the 7th Street.

Birthday Suits MySpace Page

Download: The Long Blondes - "Here Comes The Serious Bit"
Download: The Long Blondes - "Guilt"

UK quintet The Long Blondes seemed to have a pretty good thing going when they released their debut album Someone To Drive You Home in 2006. The group's sound was a sleek, sensual and feminine reminder to all of the post-punk revival boys that, hey, Blondie was once considered punk as well. So it's a bit of a surprise, then, that for "Couples", the band's latest effort, the band has done not-so-much an 180 degree shift, so much as an 75 degree shift. The odes to sexual frustration are still there, but, because the band has inevitably gotten older, the perspective is much more bitter, as on the title track, where singer Kate Jackson laments how people in relationships "have the nerve to tell me they're lonely" when she, in fact, is the single one. As far as how "Couples" actually sounds, the music still has an hi-hat-snare-drum driven pulse, but the reference points here are more Pet Shop Boys (albeit with a less synthy sound) than Blondie. It's a stylistic shift that I'm not sure the band needed to make, but it's one that they do pull off more often than not, especially on songs like the disco-chic "Guilt" and the minimalist art-noir of "Too Clever By Half". Less successful are self-consciously "different" tracks like "Round The Hairpin", which is too turgid and goes nowhere, but those low-lights are made for by the manic, frantic energy and lyrical wit of "Here Comes The Serious Bit" and "I'm Going To Hell", the latter being a funny, defiant exercise of grace under bad judgment. Though "Couples" isn't entirely successful, it has enough pleasures to make it a contender for one of the most underrated albums of the year.

Show is 21+, and tickets are $13. More show info here

(Jonathan Graef)



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