LIVE THE PARTY – The Guys (Friendship Records)
If the vacuous, glossy press kit (written by someone while on ecstasy) that came with it wasn’t enough to consign “Live the Party” to where the place for albums too shitty to review, the dorky cover and odious, pink-and-white polka dot interior artwork almost did the trick. Not that anyone here judges books by their covers, but first impressions can be telling and human life is relatively short.
So people who don’t look like oil paintings should never judge others by their looks? Well, no-one puts the ugly mugs of punters who buy music on the front cover of albums, and these guys are asking for it by putting their image out there. Come to think of it, what is this band’s audience? Best guess, after a listen and a look, is that they’re Canadian (‘cos that’s where The Guys originate – Men Without Hats, anyone?) and have deep-seated self-esteem issues. They use lots of hair product, wear copious amounts of gold jewellery and hang around clubs wearing skin tight dress pants and shirts undone to the waist, in the hope of date-raping their best mates’ sisters. Of course they never get past faltering, short conversations that end with them being told to fuck off, so they slink off to lock themselves in toilet cubicles where they snort cheap meth off the cistern and fantasise about taking photos of their would-be victims after the event, just so they won’t tell and so there’s proof that they did, in fact, score because none of their similarly loser acquaintances at Gold’s Gym would ever believe them.
But we’re getting ahead of ourselves here so back to The Guys. Two of them look like Robin Gibb, the most follically-challenged Bee Gee who hides his scalp under a silly hat. Big sunglasses are in with The Guys and they’re obviously crying out for an eyewear sponsorship. Must see if the local outlet for Sunglasses Hut is in the market. Two of The Guys look to be attempting to do what Keef, Johnny Genzales and Nikki Sudden couldn’t and inspire the revival of cravats as an essential fashion item. Forget it boys; they were junkies and had an excuse for dressing badly.
Portraits inside the CD booklet have various Guys in mid-recline repose with shirt tantalisingly undone and come hither look obscured behind ever-present shades; doing the Gene Simmons tongue thing (do The Guys collect trophies?); solo and open-shirted with eyes averted in the general direction of one’s own crotch and; dressed to party (natch) in a fetching ensemble of big shades, floppy pimp hat and white Miami Vice jacket. Don Johnson rules, even in Ottawa.
But it’s all about the music, right, and we’re partying from the get go. “Unloaded” bounces out of the speakers and, er, unloads like a parody of Devo with an “alright” and a massed “hey you!” This is Mark Mothersburgh with an erection, I kid you fucking not, as fuzzy-tinged, rubber band bass and cheesy keyboards propel lyrics like:
My lips are cravin’ candy
And your body looks sugar coated
Tonight will be the night
When my love will be unloaded
I mean, talk about the money shot! And it’s only the first track! Questions of premature ejaculation aside, this is pure genius; not ironic in any sense of the word but so good because it’s being done seriously and comes out so horribly badly. I mean, do The Guys know how goddamn fucking brilliant they are? Nah, they’re probably too busy combing their hair.
But there’s more - much more. The peak moment comes (term used under advisement) midway through the album on a track called “Man With a Moustache”. I was playing this in the car and had to pull over, tears streaming down my face, I was laughing so hard. Vaguely post-punk guitar is laid over Thomas Love’s insistent, metronomic beat and Barry Fuse’s lightly throbbing bass (I’m not making these names up) before Johnny Kirk’s half-whispered vocal chimes in.
She’s not satisfied
She needs a man with a moustache
A man with a moustache
The thin, high harmonies are cool but the killer application is what someone must think a female orgasm sounds like, although it’s closer to the mewing death rattle of a kitten in a weighted and tied hessian bag when fully aware that it’s bound for the bottom of a lake. I’m frankly surprised that a song this good is credited to the whole band as whoever penned lyrics like these needs to step up and claim kudos:
It’s a man’s world
No place for boys
Let’s get together girl
Our lips can make some noise
With hair on top
A voice designed
For pillow talk
Now tell me it isn’t not enough to inspire every person that hears it to go and cultivate a crop under the lip? (Which is not easy to do if you’re female, but Mediterranean heritage might help).
Every good party has a chill-out space and for The Guys it’s “All Alone”. If the entire, pathetic, self-pitying Emo movement deserves to be wrapped up in a valium-like blanket and turfed off a very high cliff for inspiring a whole generation of pasty-faced, milksop mallrats to think they’re as fucked up as the bands they listen to, here’s what it’d sound like if marketed to middle-aged, hirsute men driving clapped-out, second-hand sports cars on rainy days with the top down just so they can be seen. This is the soundtrack for the next meeting of the local male chapter of Parents Without Partners. The number that follows, “Before You Run”, is even more limp but at least we now know from where the album title comes.
“Off Limits” sounds like I’d imagine the current Ric Ocasek-less Cars do, but without any semblance of a hook (and a good thing that is, too). “Way Down Low” gets off on handclaps and a feeble vocal, with lines like “I need a love to get me through the night/I need a love to make it all right”.
I’d guess that The Guys would be an inspired cover band, dredging up the worst excesses of what used to be labelled New Wave (just so it didn’t scare the masses). The most dangerous thing The Guys could do would be play their own songs.
Relish this debut album by The Guys; they probably won’t get to make another. – The Barman
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