Everybody know that novelty bands have a hard time growing up, but the Presidents of the United States of America made a large leap toward that during their re-formation of 2000, with Freaked Out and Small demonstrating a decrease in their stylized silliness mellowed into something more genuine. It wasn't that the band rocked less, but their humor seemed less forced, a development that continued on 2004's Love Everybody. Evolution continues to be the name of the game on their 2008 follow-up These Are the Good Times People, as the group replaces departing guitarist (and founding member) Dave Dederer with Andrew McKeag, while they bring Seattle underground mainstay Kurt Bloch in as producer, all elements that help make These Are the Good Times People perhaps their most eclectic album to date. Not that you'd know it from the first couple of songs, "Mixed Up S.O.B." and "Ladybug," which feel like stilted deliberate attempts to re-create the "Lump"/"Peaches" goofball appeal, trying just a bit too hard to be silly. After that, the humor flows a little smoother, as does the music, with the hooks swinging so naturally it's easy to ignore all the different sounds the Presidents try here, like the country 2-step of "Truckstop Butterfly," or the gentle, lilting "Loose Balloon" contrasts with the fuzzy power pop of "So Low So Hi" or how the tense, stuttering riff of "Ghosts Are Everywhere" echoes back to early punk (particularly the Jam in its taut, muscular verses) and how "Flame Is Love" delves into pure swing, complete with punctuating horns. It's this kind of subtle musical evolution that makes the President of the United States of America's second decade of records more satisfying and interesting than their first few were.
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AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine