Happy Flowers


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Somewhere out there, in a world where it's only young people -- very, very young -- against the "horrible world of the adults," Oof reigns supreme. It's the anti-Dr. Seuss, the anti-Dr. Spock. It's Happy Flowers -- what more need be said? Combining an intentionally infantile vision with at times surprisingly creative music for the indie rock milieu, which the band ended up in by default, they are not quite the logical extension of Frank Zappa, but somehow there's a sense he might have approved. The fact that everything is recorded reasonably well makes the endless parade of short, sharp shocks about scabs, the "f word," and avoiding school all the more crazy -- Oof may be lowbrow, but it isn't lo-fi. Squalling guitar loops, surfy drum licks, dumb-ass blues, and more help solidify the band's reputation as precursors of Ween in their genre-hopping sense, sort of. Mr. Anus and Mr. Horribly Charred Infant live up to their usual level on Oof -- if the duo can't be said to have progressed, the two definitely have a vision that they pursue to logical extremes. Hence the open-ended feedback and scrape of "There's a Soft Spot on the Baby's Head," which unsurprisingly leads to tears and recrimination soon enough, or the high-pitched screeches of "I Said I Wanna Watch Cartoons," which sounds like the prelude to a few family killings in the night. What makes Oof a surprising, out-of-nowhere winner comes near the end, when the two do a straightforward -- and quite heartfelt and lovely -- take on Yoko Ono's "Mrs. Lennon." It's just 12-string acoustic guitar, keyboards, and Mr. Horribly Charred Infant singing with low-key passion -- the type of unexpected curveball that sets the rest of the album in a bizarre context, even with the freak-out at the end.

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