Under Review/Streets Of My Town: Drink Up Buttercup – Born And Thrown On A Hook
Philadelphia oddballs Drink Up Buttercup make the kind of music you might hear in some nightmarish carnival. Though they’ve been around for a few years, releasing EPs and demos here and there, they’ve only recently settled down with Yep Roc records to put out their full-length debut, Born And Thrown On A Hook. As is the case with many bands who delay a proper debut album, a lot of the tracks on Born And Thrown On A Hook are ones that previously appeared in rough or live versions. Despite this, the songs sound fresh, familiar and instantly catchy all around. The record plays like a 38-minute set of variations on “Being For The Benefit Of Mr. Kite!,” with peculiar time-shifts and whirligig keyboards splattered across the 11 songs and three interludes. Born And Thrown On A Hook starts with “Seasickness Pills,” a song that shows off the band’s love for the eerily mundane. You may ask yourself, ‘where am I going that I won’t be back soon?’ Drink Up Buttercup aren’t about to answer any of the questions you might posit within the album’s running time, but they’re so strongly convicted in this music that it’s best to join them for the ride down the rabbit hole.
One of Drink Up Buttercup’s tricks is contrast, usually juxtaposing dark and twisted lyrics with high harmonies and bright music. This is put to tremendous effect on “Lovers Play Dead,” a kind of apocalyptic campfire song, and “Young Ladies,” a strangely friendly song about taking advantage of some passed-out girls. Musically, the album recalls countless nuggets from the psychedelic era, with a dizzying keyboard buzz in “Even Think,” and a thick fuzz bass in “Heavy Hand.” As sure as the quartet is direction-wise, what gives Born And Thrown On A Hook so much charm is the constant instability in the songs. “Sosey And Dosey” threatens to break apart even in its lumbering intro, and closer “Maestro Monsignor” jumps between musical themes with a calculated kind of tumult. The only thing that I can find about Born And Thrown On A Hook to fault the guys for is that the album only offers a slight amount of variety. For someone like me who enjoys the band’s core style of shouted mantras and abrupt breakdowns, this isn’t really a problem worth mentioning. However, Drink Up Buttercup have created a record that’s so immersive, it doesn’t leave room for anything less than a strong reaction from the listener. You’ll either love these guys or you’ll hate them. But, odds are, you’ll love them.