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With a war in Iraq, melting polar ice caps, and a looming recession, Americans are overwhelmed with negatives. Thank God the B-52s released a new album this year.

Funplex, their first release in 16 years, sounds like the playful new-wave pop that made the band famous in the early 1980s. With lyrics like "Faster pussycat, thrill, thrill/ I'm at the mall on a diet pill" from the album's title track, it's hard not to crack a smile even in the gloomiest of circumstances.

On their latest release, the Athens, Georgia-based quartet (Fred Schneider, Keith Strickland, Kate Pierson, and Cindy Wilson) retain their classic intergalactic, whacky sound. In fact, the only thing that's changed since the B-52s released classic hits such as "Rock Lobster" and "Love Shack" are those crazy beehives. These days, the women in the band wear their hair down (but they've kept the crazy dye jobs).

Forget the world's problems and relive the carefree '80s this weekend when the B-52s play an outdoor show in the Memphis Botanic Garden's Live at the Garden concert series.

The B-52s, Friday, September 12th, Memphis Botanic Garden, 750 Cherry. Gates open at 7 p.m., show starts at 8:30 p.m. $39 (525-1515).

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