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Know Your Product: Ear Pwr, Super Animal Brothers III (Carpark)

May 14, 2009

If a pop-techno album ever warranted its own Surgeon General’s warning, Super Animal Brothers III is it. Something along the lines of: “This disc contains high does of sacharrine and obnoxious cuteness, which may trigger diabetic comas in some listeners. Do not ingest more than once in a single 72-hour period.”

What Ear Pwr‘s Sarah Reynolds and Devin Booze-formerly based out of North Carolina, now nesting in Baltimore-proffer is gut-pummeling, madcap, dance-til-you-drop twee that is all puerile, cartoon surface. And it flashes by in a neon blur as dumb-happy as it is pleasure-point stabbing: tension-ratcheting “You Are the Bomb” taking that bit of vernacular seriously in 30 fleeting seconds of silliness, “Boys II Volcanoes” squishing chopped chimes and virtuoso melisma into relentless nonsense about skulls in the sea, aerobic “Beam of Light” pureeing synth sounds-at which point the song begins to careen from that churn into I Am The World Trade Center ripoff fodder, then back to the tonal melee. (See also: “Future Eyes.”)

Both Ear Pwr and IATWTC use bright, halogen synths and shameless pop hooks, but IATWTC’s music had the benefit of being about actual adult emotions based in fact; Ear Pwr aim for conjectural giggles. The title track spikes glow-stick hyperactivity with hip-hop woot-woots and animal-buddy babble; “Sparkley Sweater” is a chiptune earworm about a sparkly sweater, while cheesy skitter-fest “Cats is People, Too” has something to do with kittens in pyramids and randomly quotes Rammstein’s 1997 hit “Du Hast.”

Yet there’s something to be said for music this single-mindedly uninhibited, this merrily shallow, this steamrollering. Ear Pwr harnesses and simulates the heedless energy that spring is supposed to trigger within us all. Who can blame the band for channeling it into charmingly vapid songs such as “Diamonds Liquor Leather,” with its helium-balloon synth-squiggles and “I’ll do the dealing if you’ll do the wheeling/ We’ll make lots of money and it will be funny” refrains? And, honestly, who among us doesn’t just need this kind of cut-loose malarkey now and again?

Ear Pwr plays the Zodiac May 17. For more information visit