That Petrol Emotion

Babble

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Following hotly on the heels of 1986's Manic Pop Thrill, That Petrol Emotion's Babble brought more clever madness onto the scene, happily cutting Sean and Damian O'Neill's diversified punk influences with dance music, hook-laden pop, and a streak of acerbic political and social commentary. It certainly wasn't the Undertones. But the wiry, treble-kicking guitars and whooping vocals of "Swamp" made it just as vital, and "Dance Your Ass Off"'s "Party all nights"'s and "Hey! Hey! Hey!"'s weren't so much vapid dancefloor catch phrases as they were righteous calls to action. Despite the hooks that bled from every busted seam, Babble seemed to bask in the glow of a freshly lit car fire. Its walls of guitars, incessant, processed snare kicks, and snarling vocals celebrated the empty calories of pop music, and did so with bared teeth. (Was that a bullet ricocheting off "Split!"'s overdriven rhythm?) At the same time, the album's slower moments were just as accomplished. That Petrol Emotion didn't just set the fires -- they took time to watch them burn. Arriving at a flux point in pop music, Babble became a bridge album between blissfully ignorant dance, radio-ready pop and the remaining sentiment of punk rock. It wasn't just a call-to-arms snapshot at the end of a decade, but a prominent influence on the coming Brit-pop revolution.

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