Album Review Be Your Own Pet - Get Awkward

By now, you get the feeling that Be Your Own Pet should be broadening their horizons, and attempting something just a little more grown up.

This one was always going to be interesting. On their self-titled debut record, the band boasted an average age of 16.5, and let’s not even pretend they showed anything resembling maturity beyond their age: Be Your Own Pet’s brattish scuzz-rock was all about the partying, the loving, the hating and the teen angst. It was immature alright, but it complemented their musical direction well. For obvious reasons it rubbed better with people their age, but even to the mature listener it was endearing in many ways - a reminder of the trivialities of their own youth, perhaps.

Three years later, and where next for the Tennessee four-piece? Those old enough will know that the years just before adulthood are probably the fastest. A time of discovery and development, and massive personal change. It stands to reason, then, that there would be something a bit different going on in their lives - maybe they’ve finally realised all that all that angst and yearning is all a bit silly, and taken an interest in politics and fine art instead?

Well… not quite. In short, ‘Get Awkward’ could essentially be the same record again. Maybe it’s that they never had to face the tough life decisions most of us do on reaching that tender age - getting a job, further education, etc. - but BYOP are in pretty much the same place they were before. It’s fair to say that if they were a green-stocking-clad literary metaphor for eternal youth, they would indeed be Peter Pan. Maybe a little more hardcore.

In fact, BYOP are determined to drum that message into you from the start. ‘Super Soaked’, recorded on lead singer Jemina Pearl’s 20th birthday, makes an instant statement: ‘I just want to run around, I just want to party down / Drug runs and beer butts is all I know’ is the defiant message. Indeed, it’s the overlying theme throughout the album: songs about a ‘Food Fight’ and ‘Zombie Graveyard Party’, to name just a few, display a burning desire to hold onto youth.

Musically, ‘Get Awkward’ doesn’t even seem to attempt to break new ground. It’s a little more melodic than the debut in places, but not so much that it seems like a conscious effort. And it seems that the band’s unpredictable sound wasn’t so unpredictable after all: the short, sharp guitar phrases, the sudden changes in direction, the messy, shouty vocals - all still present and correct.

And so the focus is shifted onto the lyrical content - which, you guessed it - has changed very little. At first it comes across fun and carefree, but after a few tracks the infantilic nature of the BYOP mindset begins to grate. With seemingly no progress from the debut, they appear short on ideas unless they involve partying, love interests and petty squabbles with peers (often in the space of one song), and quite frankly it’s a shallow approach to making music.

Therein lies the problem: one album of this is good fun, but by now, you get the feeling that Be Your Own Pet should be broadening their horizons, and attempting something just a little more grown up.

 

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