The Fury of the Aquabats!
I was prepared to dismiss this record as silly. My only exposure to the Aquabats had been from two witty covers on tribute records, including the nearly-infamous campfire sing-along version of Operation Ivy’s “Knowledge.” Of course, I knew the back story (The Aquabats, you see, are super-heroes from the lost continent of Aquabania!), but I was skeptical that this jokey-type stuff could round out an entire album. I’m glad to report that I’m no longer a skeptic, I’m a convert! The Fury of the Aquabats! is downright charming, and way too much fun, with an ’80s new wave flavor not unreminiscent of DEVO (they even describe themselves as “post-apocalypso-spudrock”).
The real surprise here is the musicianship. The Aquabats may look silly in their DEVO-inspired superhero costumes, but they’ve got the musical skills to back up the silliness. The band is tight, the horn section is sweet, and there’s nary a musical misstep. As a result, the songs on this record are infernally catchy. You’re going to look awfully silly walking along singing “Super Rad!,” “Martian Girl!,” and “Powdered Milk Man!,” but believe me, you will be singing. “Magic Chicken!” will have you shouting along “Do the popcorn chicken! Do the KFC!” I’m stuck on the spooky, Oingo Boingo-flavored “Cat With 2 Heads!,” myself; it’s the best song Danny Elfman never wrote — and besides, “it ate all the New Kids on the Block!” The hidden track “Happy Land!” is another big winner — who can resist a song where the pop culture references come at you as fast and furious as any Kevin Smith movie? Then there’s “Captain Hampton and the Midget Pirates!,” and if the title alone doesn’t make you want to hear this song, you’re not gonna get it, anyway.
All in all, it’s 16 tracks of inspired ska lunacy. This is fresh, fun music, and I heartily recommend The Fury of the Aquabats! to anyone with a sense of humor and a desire to dance. As for me, I’m ready to defect to Aquabania! I wonder if the Aquabats need a kid sidekick? Goldenvoice Recording Company, 6 West 57th St., New York, NY 10019; http://www.goldenvoice.com