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Pere Ubu CDPere Ubu
Why I Hate Women (Hearthen)



A concept album of sorts, we're told, upon which the songs tell a story, although don't ask me to explain the tale. Following Pere Ubu frontman and main songwriter David Thomas's characters through their wanderings and musings and bursts of angst is an intriguing journey, but a certain bafflement goes with the territory. Fortunately, the soundtrack is a doozy. From the staccato pulse of 'Two Girls, One Bar' and the introspective rumble of 'Blue Velvet', to the screeching, teetering romp of 'Caroleen' and the jerky, bass-heavy bump 'n' grind of 'Flames Over Nebraska', Pere Ubu are on cracking form. David Thomas sings in that querulous wail that manages to be the most un-rock 'n' roll noise you've ever heard, while at the same time conjuring an image of Little Richard as a cantankerous school caretaker who's just discovered some graffiti in the toilets.

The band crunch and clatter like Meccano models falling apart, every song shot through with the uulations of Robert Wheeler's theremin. It's a rackety old noise, to be sure, but Pere Ubu are probably the only band on the planet that can make music that sounds like an old corrugated iron barn being buffeted by a gale and get away with it. On 'My Boyfriend's Back' David Thomas phones in his vocal over chick-chicka guitar and sepulchral synthesized booming; on 'Synth Farm' electronic textrures as rough as freshly ploughed fields rumble threateningly on a number that veers dangerously close to some weird jazz tangent. All of which is par for the Pere Ubu course, but it's almost a relief when the album wraps up with 'Texas Overture', a to-and-fro lope with a vocal hitting the beat like a square dance caller. It's a good-humoured romp that almost counts as accessible.

I don't know if I'd reccommend this album as a good starting point for anyone who has not hitherto encountered Pere Ubu, but then Pere Ubu are a band you warn people about, not recommend. For long-standing fans, this is the essential thing: Pere Ubu have gone and made an odd little classic. Again.

Essential links:

Pere Ubu: Website | MySpace

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