Rod Liddle

PWR BTTM: Pageant

It may well be that they will burn in hell but, whatever, Pageant is the best album I've heard this year

PWR BTTM: Pageant
Text settings

How about some queercore garage punk? PWR BTTM — the name means something empowering to do with buggery — are a young, gay, two-piece band from New York State who live apparently hectic lives. Their new album, Pageant, was released last week and a couple of days later they were kicked off their record label and current tour after allegations of sexual predation were made against the pantomimely camp singer, Ben Hopkins. The greatest surprise was that the complaints came from a woman. Their career is now in limbo. Hopkins denies the allegations, of course, claiming that he is a consensual and democratic kind of chap.

But it’s all rather a shame because Pageant is a thrilling album: tuneful, frenetic and funny. Forget the garage punk tag. This stuff sounds closer to mid-1990s American post-grunge indie music — think Buffalo Tom except with far better choruses and a sense of humour. They have developed a worrying sensitivity on this second album. There are quiet, thoughtful moments. Perhaps too many. I rather miss the ‘Wild Thing’ thrash of their first, Ugly Cherries. But they still hammer away at those guitars, the tunes soar ever upwards – especially on the lovely ‘Big Beautiful Day’. And who can possibly resist a chorus which goes: ‘Answer my text, you dick!’ The guitars jangle and crunch and make you suspect that perhaps rawk music isn’t quite dead yet.

I suppose this shtick could grow wearisome. And it may well be that, as my mother-in-law would put it, they will burn for eternity in the cleansing fires of hell. But, whatever, they’ve made the best album I’ve heard this year by some distance.