Peat Sounds, the second album from the Pubes, clocks in at just over 23 minutes, just enough time to cram in fourteen spry, infectious power-punk songs. The quartet continues to toe the line between winsome juvenilia and snotty, jerk-neck punk rock. It's a charming balance that the band has worked to cultivate, from the Beach Boys-saluting album title to the cutesy cartoon illustrations that adorn the liner notes. The Pubes reach for such a high level of twee-ness that it becomes subversive even Belle & Sebastian wouldn't put pink bunnies and smiling froggies on an album cover.
It's hardly worth discussing the lyrics singers Peat Henry and Mario Viele could sing anything over these quick, crunchy songs and it would work. In fact, that seems to be the working model for most of these songs "Oven Burn" mostly exists as an excuse to shout "Jackie Joyner-Kersee" over and over, while "In the Bathroom" questions the authorship of the Rod Stewart hit "Downtown Train." (It was, as the song admits, written by Tom Waits. Who said punk rock isn't educational?) No, the album lives and dies on the strength of its riffs and the tautness of the rhythm section; by that measure, Peat Sounds is basically flawless. The band chugs through these tracks with as much glee as ability, a rare combo that makes the band a kind of punk-rock unicorn. In fact, that might not be a bad cover image for the next Pubes record.
Christian Schaeffer 8:45 p.m. Saturday, June 23. Creepy Crawl, 3524 Washington Boulevard. $8 to $10.
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