Having created a near-perfect blend of whiny humor and punk catchiness on Big Lizard in My Backyard, on their follow-up the Milkmen ended up falling a bit short. It's not a drastic, disastrous fall-off by any means, but part of the problem is the album's lack of a perfect single; where the past had "Bitchin' Camaro" and the future would have "Punk Rock Girl," Eat Your Paisley doesn't have a specific "must listen" number to recommend it. The closest might be "The Thing That Only Eats Hippies," a nutty rant about a Japanese-style movie monster out to nosh on '60s relics ("now it's got a sweet tooth for long hair") that fits the odd album title. Then there's "Beach Party Vietnam," which admittedly says it all in the title but still has a catchy chorus and appropriately off-kilter vim, and the dark cheer of "Happy Is," sunnily reflecting on corpses and death a bit like the Soft Boys' "I Wanna Destroy You." Beyond that, though, things are more hit and miss. The same overall combination of questionable taste, sometimes oddly sweet energy, and wiggy smirkiness runs rampant, but very little connects the way it should, raising a smile but not demanding repeated listens. The band is most successful when showing its continually improving musical chops, as with the ghost-of-New Order bass from Dave Blood that starts off "Fifty Things" or the appropriately winsome chime of "I Hear Your Name." There is one nicely off number at the end, "The Fez," a slow, heavy crunch that features Rodney Anonymous going off about how "ripping off the Butthole Surfers is how we make our living!"
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Ned Raggett