Peelander-Z
"P-Pop-High School"

(Eat Rice Records 2009)Peelander-Z - P-Pop-High School

If you've never seen Peelander-Z live (and let's face it, chances are you haven't), do yourself a favor and check them out. It's unbelievably entertaining. The Japanese punkers dress up in outfits resembling Power Rangers, hurl themselves into bowling pins, and encourage the audience to join them onstage to help out with the performance. And while Peelander-Z's studio efforts don't quite match the communal good time of their shows, it's certainly not for a lack of trying.

Peelander-Z's music is exactly what you would expect reading the description of their live show above: loud, whacky, DIY Japanese punk rock where the main concern is fun, fun, and fun. The instrumentation isn't anything revolutionary, mostly simple but effectively head-bobbing, standard sounding punk tunes. But the Peelanders have progressed past the crude energy of past albums like "P-Bone Steak," and throw in hints of variation. The most noticeable is a distinct '50s rock vibe on tracks like "Beautiful Sundae" and "Autograph," but they also come as close to a ballad as they probably ever will on "Give Me Your Smile." And they've also produced their best song to date in the slide-guitar drenched, cheerful sing-along rocker "Panda-III."

Where this album, and all of Peelander-Z's music, differs from any other punk records are the vocals and lyrics. Frontman Peelander-Yellow barks out broken-English phrases and sentences in a register only slightly above atonal. They're goofy, nonsensical, and genuinely funny. Hell, "Handsome" consists solely of the lyric "Ugly, ugly, ugly, ugly, handsome!" repeated over and over. That's an extreme example, but some of the various other subject matters explored are zombies, knowing too many people named Mike, the band's entreaty for fans to bring parents to their shows, and the Peelanders' desire to brighten fans' days with autographs. It's all completely ridiculous, but sung with such honesty and a snaggle-toothed grin that it's way more endearing than annoying.

Peelander-Z's musicianship and songwriting have finally caught up to their clearly well thought out personae. Their colorful costumes and crazy live performances might be the initial draw, but their ability to write catchy, memorable songs makes the camp factor a plus. Your initial instinct will probably be to laugh at the band, but a few songs into "P-Pop-High School" and you'll be laughing right along with them.

B+

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