CD Review of Get Awkward by Be Your Own Pet
Recommended if you like
Yeah Yeah Yeahs, the Plasmatics, the Stooges
Ecstatic Peace/XL
Be Your Own Pet:
Get Awkward

Reviewed by James B. Eldred


Bicycle, Bicycle, You Are My Bicycle,” from Be Your Own Pet’s debut album, was a godsend of punk rock noise. Lead singer Jemina Pearl’s insane screaming voice combined with fast-as-balls drumming and crunching guitar riffs to create a near-perfect song that also happened to make bike riding cooler than shit.

Tracks like that one made critics and music fans desperate for someone to bring the damn energy back to indie rock (thanks a lot, all you damn Canadians); praise for the band’s debut album was nearly as enthusiastic as Pearl’s twirly onstage antics.

But there were murmurs of doubt when it was announced that the drums-and-guitar-playing brothers Orrall were leaving the band. Supposedly guitarist Jake left the group to go explore Iceland (dude needs to lay off the Bjork records) and Jamin, the drummer, abandoned the group to go to college. That is so not punk rock. Also a concern was the fact that much of Be Your Own Pet’s energy is attributed to their youth – as everyone in the band inches closer to the dreaded 20, will their energy and enthusiasm fade away?

It turns out that worries of a sudden transition to Top 40 radio-friendly pop songs were highly overstated. On Get Awkward, Be Your Own Pet, while showing just a little bit more maturity than they did on their debut record, are full of the wreckless abandon and energy that made them great.

Pearl must have known that some were questioning the band’s ability to still rock out at their signature breakneck pace, judging from the opening salvo “Super Soaked.” As she shouts out, “I don’t wanna grow up and have to let go / I feel the pressure to change my ways” we can be fairly certain that this girl is pretty far away from mellowing out.

“The Kelly Affair” continues to document Pearl’s quest to stay a nonstop party animal no matter her age. “Everybody here parties all the time / Everyone here has sex all the time,” she screams over a strangely appropriate ‘60s-style guitar riff. And when she moves on to more personal matters, such as getting dumped, on “Twisted Nerve,” she still retains her vicious edge, screaming “You’re such a tease / You’re such a jerk / Why do I waste my time?” Wannabe male groupies take note: you may want to stay clear of this firecracker if you value your manhood.

While Get Awkward is lacking any really superb stand-out tracks like “Bicycle, Bicycle…” and “Thresher’s Flail,” it has no weak spots, unlike their debut album, making it a much more solid record and a great step forward for a band that has nothing but potential.

Get Awkward is a short record, though, clocking in at just under 30 minutes. That’s not a big deal, but what is a big deal is that the European release of the record includes three additional songs that are left off the American version of the album. According to an interview with Pearl, this was because the band’s label found the songs to be excessively violent. My message to the person at the label who decided that: I’m going to punch you in the face. How’s that for excessive violence?

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