On the first song on Be Your Own Pet's second album, Get Awkward, singer Jemima Pearl brings us up to date: "Now that I'm 20, I don't want to have responsibility," she sing-shouts on "Super Soaked." "I don't want to be a part of society!" It sounds like a promise that even though she's no longer a teenager, we can still expect the Muppet-punk brattiness that animated the band's eponymous 2006 debut, which was known to blister paint at high volumes.
Get Awkward is more of the same, although the Nashville-based band no longer sounds like they just picked up their instruments for the first time. In fact, the band (including new drummer John Eatherly) have honed their musical skills considerably, evident in the metal sludge chorus of "Twisted Nerve" and the stop-start hook of "The Kelly Affair," which cribs from Beyond the Valley of the Dolls. But the band's food-fight aesthetic remains: Be Your Own Pet tear through their songs, the guitars consistently abrasive and Pearl always charismatic.
She still sets most of her songs in high school ("Food Fight") and retains her playful menace ("Bitches Leave"), and, best of all, she continues to indulge her fascination with zombies. "Zombie Graveyard Party," which is a stand-out, explores undead romance and sports the year's best chorus: "Life is lame so let me eat your brain."
Of course, as much as Pearl & Co. don't want to join proper society, proper society is reaching into their adolescent world. A few weeks prior to the release of Get Awkward, Universal Records, which owns and distributes Ecstatic Peace!, removed three tracks from the U.S. version due to concern over violent lyrics. Of the missing songs, the absence of "Becky" is most stinging. Available on non-U.S. versions (and streaming at the band's website), the song gleefully subverts girl-group traditions as Be Your Own Pet inflate a tawdry story about BFFs turned frenemies into a juvie epic.
Subtitle it "My So-Called Life Sentence": The song ends in bloodshed and imprisonment, but Pearl remain defiant: "I don't regret what I've done," she sings, "'cause in the end, it was fun!"
Like every song on Get Awkward, "Becky" is a defiant middle finger in society's face, and despite the censorship, these kids are alright. — Stephen Deusner
Grade: U.S. version: B+; non-U.S. version: A-