Born and Thrown on a Hook

Drink Up Buttercup

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Born and Thrown on a Hook Review

by j. poet

Drink Up Buttercup have built a huge buzz with their energetic live shows and songwriting that distills the golden pop sounds of England and America between approximately 1964 and 1975 into a dizzying, heady brew. The arrangements are uniformly inventive, splicing together bits and pieces of everything that's been waxed since the mid-'60s with a gleefully scattershot approach. The melodies are uniformly catchy; the vocals are marked by harmonies so sweet they could give you diabetes; and James Harvey's lead vocals are always surprising, full of unexpected starts and stops, one minute sweet and folky, the next an uncontained shriek of outrageous psychedelic delight. The same juxtapositions abound in the arrangements. The opening triad starts with "Seasickness Pills," a stomping blend of garage band noise and Brit-pop that drops a Gregorian chant-like interlude into its climax, then moves jarringly into "Animate the Hangtime," a noisy jolt of musique concrète, before concluding with the blissfully sweet "Young Ladies" with tinkling piano, glockenspiel, and ELO-like synth swells. The band's vocal harmonies are angelic and the rhythmic feel is half Beatles, half Kinks, finishing with delirious rippling piano flourishes. Acoustic guitar kicks off "Doggy Head," a funky stomper that sounds like the Archies singing with a quieter version of Slade with a bit of reggae in the backbeat. "Who Spilled the Beaker" is another brief but ominous keyboard interlude that leads to "Heavy Hand," a raucous bit of New York City-flavored garage psychedelia with hints of Motown and the 13th Floor Elevators in its big noisy montage. The band's exuberance, free-flowing creativity, and uncontained performance style carry over to the album, which is presented with the same ebb and flow as a live show. There is hardly any silence between tracks, and their penchant for rhythmic noise and oddball vocals suggests a rock suite as much as a random collection of songs.

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