The Presidents of the United States of America are back! After breaking up in 1998, the group reunited as the Presidents in 2000 for Freaked Out and Small, and in 2004 they emerge once more, with their full moniker back intact.
The band has come a long way since “Peaches,” “Kitty,” “Lump” and the other kickass tunes on their 1995 self-titled breakthrough. Love Everybody, self-released on Pusa Records, is considerably less off-kilter lyrically, as the Presidents have taken to experimenting with their music more than their subject matter. That’s not to say their songs are quite normal yet – songs like “Some Postman,” “Poke and Destroy” and “Drool at You” contain far from typical lyrics. But the main difference here is that the varied melodies, rhythms and instrumental approaches are generally more interesting and memorable than the lyrics.
“Highway Forever,” for example, is a rockin’ piece of rockabilly-punk featuring a wicked harmonica lead. “Shortwave” is an instrumental informed by surf-rock, psychedelia and ’60s pop. “5,500 Miles” goes from hard to soft and fast to slow without feeling unnatural or forced. Many of the tracks also feature keyboard and synth, creating a unique sound not heard in the group’s earlier material. Further, guitar solos and creative effects confirm their transformation from one-off pop culture icons to legit rockers.
While this album is a little heavier and less forthrightly endearing than POTUSA, it’s still a charming collection – old fans may not be interested, but they shouldn’t be disappointed. Ballew, guitbass player Dave Dederer, and drummer Jason Finn are no fools – they know fans appreciate their humorous, often strange lyrics and unique take on punk and grunge. Without abandoning this approach, the Presidents have really improved on the musical front, making this record less a pop novelty than a really nice piece of work.