At last, some sound politics Review: Move from the ballot box to the boom box for a CD from the Presidents. No empty promises, just good music.

November 05, 1996|By J.D. Considine | J.D. Considine,SUN POP MUSIC CRITIC

Today, millions of Americans will go to the polls and choose a president. But the really smart Americans will not settle for one; they'll make a stop at the CD store and go for two.

Or, more specifically, "II" (Columbia 67577, arriving in stores today), the new album from the Presidents of the United States of America. A second dose of tuneful insanity from the trio responsible for "Lump" and "Peaches," "II" doesn't promise a tax cut or a bridge to the future, but it will make you want to crank the stereo and jump around. And we all know how long it has been since a major-party candidate did that.

But then, there haven't been many candidates for office with such a deep understanding of the principles of good rock and roll. Where some might play on and on and on, turning each solo into a musical filibuster, the Presidents keep things short and to the point. Even with 15 songs, "II" clocks in at less than 45 minutes, making it a model of compositional efficiency.

Besides, how many of those other wanna-be presidents can claim a record as solid as this? Whether the issue is new technology ("Toob Amp"), justice ("Tiki God") or the environment ("Bug City"), the Presidents not only have a position, but also a hook.

Moreover, as "Supermodel" makes plain, these Presidents are the only candidates to have addressed the threat posed by leggy, statuesque young women wearing designer clothes. After hearing them describe one as a "Love child of Ghengis Khan/And a beautiful, busty Amazon," you'll never look at Vogue the same way again.

Granted, the Presidents are weak on health care, arguing in the "Lunatic to Love" that being happy "[is] all that matters." But the song makes up in melodic exuberance what it lacks in cogent policy, which is more than could be said for Ross Perot. Likewise, though it would be hard to imagine Ralph Nader endorsing the kind of automotive recklessness described in "Mach 5," the fact that the only real speeding is musical -- all the vehicles destroyed in the turbo-charged tune are Matchbox cars -- shouldn't cost the Presidents too many votes.

A more serious shortcoming, though, is the Presidents' almost myopic focus on Washington -- Washington state, that is. True, these three are proud sons of Seattle, and it is fairly funny to hear Mount St. Helens described in "Volcano" as "a big, bad, boomin' system/ A big black boom box/Stuck in the hot rocks." But unless you've spent time in the Pacific Northwest (or read the stories about e coli-bearing hamburgers in Washington state very carefully), it's unlikely that you'll really get the joke at the heart of "L.I.P."

But hey -- there's probably plenty of stuff the other candidates are saying that you don't get, either. So rather than bore us silly with talk of trade deficits or what to do about the Bosnians, these Presidents prefer to focus on important things, like footwear. Your eyes may be windows on your soul, but as the Presidents point out in "Puffy Little Shoes," the best indicators of people's character can be found on their feet. "If I had a choice between the two," they sing, "I'd obviously choose the one with the puffy little shoes."

Remember that when you go to vote today.

Pub Date: 11/05/96

Baltimore Sun Articles
|
|
|
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.