The Presidents of the United States of America: Dischord (Issue 12)

Music Reviews Presidents of the United States
The Presidents of the United States of America: Dischord (Issue 12)

By Jeff Elbel

Finally, candidates with a platform I can get behind. The Presidents’ latest offering, Love Everybody deserves the highest marks I can give it. If Chris Ballew and company are merely cashing in on their name after breaking up in December of ’97 and attempting solo projects, then more defunct bands should regroup in such a calculated fashion.

It’s impossible to believe this band is phoning it in. The manic positivity of the title cut (rocking in the mode of the Presidents’ ’95 cover of MC5’s “Kick Out the Jams”) and the cheeky jubilance of an ode to innocent and reckless boyhood like “Poke and Destroy” (“I gotta poke it to know it / I gotta light it on fire / I’m a boy / I wanna poke and destroy!”) cannot be faked.

This Seattle group offered the best, good-spirited alternative to the self-serious grunge movement in the mid ’90s with songs like “Kitty” and “Peaches.” The album’s first single, “Some Postman,” relates the story of a devious mail carrier who intercepts and hoards all of his community’s love letters.

The Presidents stick close to their minimalist trio arrangement—two strings on the bass, three on the guitar, and the standard number of drums. But when they expand the borders, look out. Check the absolutely wicked harmonica solo on “Highway Forever,” which chugs along like Golden Earring’s “Radar Love” with its drivers swigging a gallon of Red Bull apiece.

By Andy Whitman

On one hand, there’s goofy like Bill Murray in Stripes or Caddyshack. And then there’s goofy like your pathetic Uncle Ralph, wearing the lampshade atop his balding head at the New Year’s Eve party. The Presidents of the United States are goofy like Uncle Ralph. Rising to dubious fame on the basis of several pop/punk novelty songs (“Lump,” “Kitty” and “Peaches”) from their 1995 debut album, the Seattle trio had the good sense to call it quits several years later. Sadly, not knowing when to leave well-enough alone, they reformed in 2000, and now they’re back for another aurally grating term with Love Everybody, the next installment in a series of drunken frat boy anthems.

Ranging from the leering pop/punk of “Vestina” to the leering pop/punk of “Drool At You,” Love Everybody offers fourteen object lessons on boorish behavior. “Poke and Destroy” (what boys do, as opposed to girls, who are sweet and demure) and “Shreds of Boa” set the cause of gender equality back several decades, while “Highway Forever” and “5,500 Miles” offer new takes on the old “I love ya babe, but I gotta ramble” kiss off. “Zero Friction” and “Munky River” are wildly imaginative tales of lust that only serve to point out yet another difference between fantasy and reality: In the real world, you can vote the Presidents of the United States of America out of office.

Reader’s Poll Results:

Re-elect: 32%
Impeach: 68%

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