The Mr. T Experience

Yesterday Rules

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Yesterday Rules is the first Mr. T Experience album in four years, and the first to feature the latest members of the MTX "Starship": bassist Bobby J and guitarist/keyboardist Ted Angel. But some things never change, and Dr. Frank's flair for idiosyncratic yet plain-spoken pop certainly hasn't. Yesterday is punk in the same way the Modern Lovers were -- it's a spiritual companion of the genre, but doesn't have much room for screeching power chords or unintelligible screaming. Instead, MTX puts a light strum into things, relying on ringing, twanging 1960s guitars, clean acoustics, lively basslines, and unobtrusive percussion. Frank's lyrics are front and center, and he proves as culture-harangued and relationship-challenged as ever. "I don't have any friends," he begins in "Fucked Up on Life"." "I stay out of the fray/I figure I do less damage that way/And all I ever want to do is just get plowed." This bushy-tailed tale plays out -- naturally -- over a rousing little ditty complete with a plinking toy piano outro. It's a restatement of Gen X self-loathing and social lethargy, appropriately made by a guy who's been making albums since Gen X was still a hot new buzzword. Later, Dr. Frank only needs a quiet acoustic guitar to get across his feelings about "Jill," a girl he misses dearly but won't stop screening his calls to hopefully hear from. In other words, "What I'm getting at, Jill/is I can't stop not knowing why I never don't feel like/crying." "Institutionalized Misogyny" muses on Chomsky, Michel Foucault, and of course, Woody Allen, "Oh, Just Have Some Faith in Me" cranks up a decent Cracker impersonation, and those chiming guitars return for the country-ish rocker "Sorry for Freaking Out on the Phone Last Night." Yesterday Rules won't make MTX a household name. But it has huge appeal for Dr. Frank's peers -- guys as desirous of human companionship as anyone, but shackled by over thinking and days spent staring at the ceiling.

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