Album Review

Pere Ubu, Why I Hate Women (Smog Veil)

No other band sounds like Pere Ubu, and Pere Ubu sounds like no other band. Sure, there are distinctive features of Ubu's music that allow you to recognize it from album to album—singer David Thomas' high, lonesome wail; 3-D synthesizers that map the contours of every song from within like robot surveyors under extreme duress; Midwestern rock arrangements with equal parts Motown and Stooges—but why does it almost always add up to a perfect coherent thing? Why do I get the feeling every time I listen to an Ubu record that not a single note, phrase, squawk or bleep is out of place? What the hell are they doing in there with those machines? Thomas, the band's founder, leader and sole consistent member over the past 30 years, insists that Ubu isn't an "outsider" or "alternative" rock band, but one that has heedlessly pursued its vision of what rock music promised to be in the 1960s and '70s and therefore represents the authentic mainstream. As Thomas sings on "Synth Farm," "Honey, I'm a-goin' forward/And the future's reversin' back." If you listen to Pere Ubu enough, you'll start to believe it too—Why I Hate Women certainly shares more genes with, say, the Seeds than any retro-haircut-rock band that'll be barfing all over Silver Lake tonight. According to Thomas, this album is an attempt to write the novel Jim Thompson never wrote (he was too scared?), and the title belongs in the mouth of the album's desperate, corrupt protagonist. It's a premise that fires the band up: where recent Ubu albums have sounded like elegies for an America that no longer exists, or that has failed to come into being, this record is a thrill ride from a bar where "the beer don't work on me" all the way to the great family-style restaurants of Texas, "the land of the free," with kind waitresses, pinto beans, coleslaw and more meat than you can eat. My fellow Americans: awake, and claim your true heritage!

 
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