t’s perfectly understandable if the hype surrounding the possibly-not-still-hot-by-the-time-you-read-this duo Bumblebeez 81 offends you. When a friend of mine threw on the single “Pony Ride”, his face rapidly dropped from enthusiastic to embarrassed, announcing by the chorus that it works SO much better with the video, which he couldn’t really describe but was COMPLETELY hilarious. I spent the time wondering why the hell this Mellow Gold 10th anniversary outtake was getting any buzz whatsoever. Didn’t Grand Royal go bankrupt for a reason? What market is there for audibly white rappers drawling nonsense over twangy distorted guitars? Didn’t Eminem save us from this horseshit?
While it doesn’t take long for the album to reveal that “Pony Ride” is nowhere near the most rewarding track, the rest doesn’t exactly grab your attention. Distorted shrieks, campy use of rap slang, ramshackle riffage, drum loops and the occasional keyboard bloops? Yeah, we’ve been there. But notice what isn’t there. They never hang the song’s appeal on ultra-cute lyrics unlike the Moldy Peaches or early Beck (you could probably point out some real groaners here, but for the most part it goes in one ear and out the other). In fact, there’s no sluggishness, no indulgence and no obvious errors. It’s more reminiscent of Royal Trux, what with its lo-fi inexplicability and male/female vocals, except those folks doled out those novel hooks one by one (if not one by none, if not none by none) while these two somehow pile them on without a single stumble.
You could say Printz is the Mario Coldato Jr. remix of Twin Infinitives, but it might be more accurately the post-hip-hop Exile On Main Street, a directionless mess that never makes an obvious commercial ploy, never reveals any new ideas and never implies any forethought or central intelligence, yet somehow demands attention throughout, revealing new layers and engaging moments with every listen. Nothing adds up, nothing makes sense but anyone with any love for the genre will be astounded by its inexplicable energy and consistency (if they don’t dismiss it after the first listen). The lyrics are very “wham, bam, thank you ma’am, alabam, don’t give a damn” too. And unlike Exile, it’s only 40 minutes long. As for “Pony Ride”, well, I never thought “Tumbling Dice” was the pick track either. I’m not ready to declare this a classic, but give me a few years to soak up the riffs, learn more of the lyrics and odds are I’ll put it pretty high on that eventual Best Of The 00’s list. I can’t see myself liking it less than I do now. It’s not like I have to worry about it sounding dated.
Reviewed by: Anthony Miccio
Reviewed on: 2004-07-23