Party of One: Caught the Blast

Party of One
Caught the Blast
FatCat

Something is amiss in the land of playground pop. You can just picture it: Down by the weeds, near the smoking area of the park (where they run a thriving protection racket), Party of One are finger-painting with poop and fashioning curare-tipped, metal detector-proof daggers out of Popsicle sticks. Given the manifest nihilism on Caught the Blast, the Minneapolis-based trio's full-length debut, these swing set assassins might wield their weapons on everyone, just for kicks.

Slithering from persona to persona, Party ringleader Eric Fifteen models his political discontent with the ease of an immortal psychopath in a reusable bomb vest. And that's just his first outfit: The Serbian bully-boy jackboots Fifteen wears on the Neil Young-ish acoustic mini-tune "Belgrade Sends Its Regards" ("Sun turns red/Watch your back/And count your dead/You won't last through tomorrow afternoon/We'll cleanse you in the end") suit the singer/guitarist just as well as the guerrilla togs he sports on the rambunctious "Baghdad Boogie," with its Shirelles-like chorus of "Al-lah-la/Lah-la-la-la." Of course, Fifteen looks pretty good in fortune teller clothes, too: The song, written well before the war, captures the hedonistic violence of the Iraqi invasion and resistance to a T, right down to the roar of explosives.

Fifteen excels at getting inside the heads of underdogs--or folks who perceive themselves as underdogs--just as they reach the end of their tethers and start fucking shit up. His Jerry Lewis-meets-Pee Wee Herman caterwaul makes the characters in his songs seem that much more unhinged, but his predilection for old-skool punk-rock button-pushing in the tradition of the Angry Samoans and the Meatmen keeps the proceedings from getting too sanctimonious. Fifteen finds a suitable one-man army in bassist Terrika Kleinknecht, who handles the mic adroitly as a joyous cop-killing 16-year old revolutionary on the hip-hop flavored "Baby Doll."

But beneath their fatigues, Party of One are simply faux naif popsters who'd have more trouble concealing their antecedents (ranging from Can and Joy Division to Leonard Cohen) were it not for the fact that Caught the Blast sounds like it was recorded in a coffee can. Even this no-fi sound works to the band's advantage: You have to turn the volume way up to get the album's full effect. And nothing would probably make Party of One happier than to know that you were using their noise to ambush the neighbors.

 
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