Circle Jerks

Oddities, Abnormalities and Curiosities

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Legendary L.A. hardcore punk band the Circle Jerks change their approach a bit on their major-label debut, Oddities, Abnormalities and Curiosities. The album contains 12 songs that lean more toward a punk-inspired hard rock approach than their earlier hardcore sound. The tracks on this effort are also longer than many of their earlier recordings. Compared to their early classic "In Your Eyes," which runs all of 46 seconds, "Sinking Ship," at three minutes and 48 seconds, is practically an epic. This may be a change of pace, but it isn't necessarily a bad thing. This set still displays plenty of the trademarks that make the Circle Jerks so endearing, including Keith Morris' distinct howling vocal style, Greg Hetson's great guitar work, and their unmistakable sense of humor. Nowhere on this album, or possibly in the band's entire career, has their sense of humor been so prominently on display than on their cover of the Soft Boys' "I Wanna Destroy You," which features guest vocals by none other than former teen queen Debbie Gibson. This collaboration is not only brilliant but could only be pulled off by the Circle Jerks. "22," "Teenage Electric," and "Fable" are straightforward rockers that set the tone for rest of the album. Although the mainstream sound and more polished production may alienate a few early fans who are looking for something more hardcore, this is an excellent hard rock album with few weak spots along the way.

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