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Be Your Own Pet - Get Awkward

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Artist: Be Your Own Pet

Album: Get Awkward

Label: Ecstatic Peace!

Review date: Mar. 26, 2008

A few years ago, teen punkers Be Your Own Pet were visited by that hand of God, British buzz. Their home recordings got played on the BBC, word spread, and they've been a regular presence on the U.K. Indie chart ever since.

That pattern has been playing out poorly for American bands; inspired but hyped-to-death opening shots have lead to humdrum follow-ups. Get Awkward escapes that fate. They've got a carefree loudness that suggests they could walk away from it all easily. (Two of them did, actually. Jamin and Jake Orrall, who started the band in their basement, up and left.)

Jemina Pearl Abegg and Jonas Stein are still standing, though, and with some help from new members Nathan Vasquez and John Eatherly, they work their way through 15 thrash tantrums and catfight anthems as if they’re still in the Orrall’s basement. At their harshest, they plow though a song in 46 seconds, but they've also figured out enough about pop classicism to channel a hyperactive Supremes on "You're a Waste".

Be Your Own Pet is in an ideal state for this kind of brat rock – nerdy kids trying hard to be jerks, where grad school or junkidom are as likely as a career in music. The hook "You make me think way too hard" sums up the outlook. There's also a song about zombies, a tribute to Russ Meyer, and a web movie set at a rollergirls derby. This sort of delectation of trash is all too absent in most stuff that makes it to the majors.

But you know what is authentically stupid? The US release of Get Awkward leaves off three of the tracks on the British release, including the best track of all, "Black Hole,” a modish power chord ode to hating the suburbs. Frontwoman Jemima posits that the tracks were deemed too violent by the Universal legal department. It's hard to imagine anyone taking the dingbat narrator of "Becky" seriously, even if she stabs a classmate. But so be it, American youth have been protected from the couplet ”Eating pizza is really great / So is destroying everything you hate” (at least those who haven't figured out how to download).

There's plenty of kicks left over, but it tilts the impression of the band. The Teen Beat questionnaires that come in the disc jacket (What's your favorite color? What's your shoe size?) and the shortened tracklist end up emphasizing the nerdiness over the jerkiness. That makes the album closer to Germ Free Adolescents than Back from Samoa. First impressions suggest Get Awkward might be in the general league of those, and if you prefer one over the other, you know which version to seek out.

By Ben Donnelly

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