Pansy Division

Wish I'd Taken Pictures

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Pansy Division's third studio album was to a certain extent more of the same; it's little surprise, in retrospect, that the group went for such a notable leap forward musically and otherwise with Absurd Pop Song Romance in later years. That said, Wish I'd Taken Pictures isn't a bad album by any means -- it's got more of a strong punk kick than Deflowered, helped in part by Dustin Donaldson's turn on the drum kit and tighter riffs from Jon Ginoli and Chris Freeman. Songs like "Vanilla" and "Pee Shy" capture a perfect, classic Ramones style of volume plus a melody that's better than the band had done before, while individual moments hint at the burning aggression yet to come, such the death-guitar drone and distorted singing on "Expiration Date." Still, the disc just won't be that much of a surprise to anyone familiar with the band's earlier work -- the real kickers can be found in Ginoli's increasing range of lyrical reflections on the ups and, much more often, the downs of life, romantic and otherwise. Songs like the exquisitely poignant "I Really Wanted You," directed to a past love settled into a heterosexual marriage, and the Freeman-sung "This Is Your Life," reflecting on maintaining identity in a relationship when the other person has everything planned out, capture Ginoli's skill beautifully. "The Summer You Let Your Hair Grow Out" is perhaps the best of the bunch on that front, an enjoyable acoustic guitar/electric bass rave-up with Ginoli deftly touching on questions of whether or not love might be in the air. Freeman once again gets a humorous moment of glory with the hilarious and fun tale of lust "Dick of Death," which covers the situation where, as the liner notes say, "sometimes bigger is better."

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