Queasy. Awkward. Yup, this disco slinky is queasily, awkwardly appealing, despite coming across like a well-meaning 12-year-old's concept of an anthem for cougars. Read: deeply, hopelessly silly! Is Courtney Cox holding on Line One? AAWOOOOO!
"The Special Place"
The Frankensteinian nature of this group's willy-nilly songwriting—I mean, really, "Place" desecrates musical theater, funk, ska, and probably five or six other disparate styles—forestalls the raft of disses one could direct to a sobriquet only a frat boy could love. If they're even aware Battlehooch exists, I imagine that the members of Hoobastank feel a whole lot better about their handle now.
"Friday I'll Be Over U"
"Silly me, to believe/ohohoh I was unique," this not-quite-legal former Idol hopeful emotes on her first single, a rote, teen-pop grid of anonymous candied synths and stormy guitars that neatly subsumes the Iraheta we thought we knew. You know: the husky-voiced belter who, sight-unseen, we'd have assumed was a 40-year-old woman with a pack-a-day cigarette habit?
"We Choose Our Own Adventures"
Tension, tension, such dinky, expository tension! And then when the relief arrives at long, blessed last—doot-doots-doots and reaffirmations of fidelity rumbling along at horse-trot pace, almost three minutes in—Social Studies deny us any genuine sense of catharsis by closing the store before we can savor the payoff. Still, I'm intrigued.
Nighttime on the prairie, the gloaming. But something's off: The constellations are no longer out of focus, and they shift, bounce, and sway as if puppeteered by a surgeon's invisible hands. The campfire ducks and dances according to a familiar rhythmic logic. The howls of distant coyotes sound suspiciously like a woman's incantations....