Pere Ubu

Why I Hate Women

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Pere Ubu's thirteenth studio album, Why I Hate Women, opens with a powerful dose of staccato psychodrama, "Two Girls (One Bar)," and closes with arguably the closest thing to a boogie the band has ever recorded, the playfully loping "Texas Overture" which offers a joyous aural travelog (largely culinary) through "the land of the free." So it starts great and ends great -- it's what's in the middle that's often problematic on Why I Hate Women. Though the reason for the title isn't made obvious, Why I Hate Women often detours into stories of problematic relationships, and in David Thomas' world, things become problematic in very interesting ways. In "Love Song," he croons to his sweetheart "My eyes are growin' tentacles for to grab you/ My eyes are growin' hand grenades for to have you," while in his homage to "Caroleen" he declares "You know her name rhymes with gasoline/ Her perfume, I think it's turpenteen," and "I fear it's you, I hope it's you" in "Babylonian Warehouses" sums up both attraction and dread about as well as anyone could hope. But while this edition of Pere Ubu leans to the musical approach of the group's classic period (1977 through 1982), they aren't as good at generating excitement amidst the waves of oddly constructed sounds; Robert Wheeler's amelodic synthesizer work lacks the internal logic Allen Ravenstine brought to his clouds of noise, Keith Moline's guitar work is expert but rarely cuts as deep as it should, David Thomas' infatuation with odd vocal recording techniques often robs his singing of needed presence, and songs like "Stolen Cadillac," "Blue Velvet," and "Synth Farm" simply meander rather than moving forward. All of which is a shame, because when this band fires on all cylinders -- the cracking "Caroleen," the simple but foggy rock & roll charge of "Flames Over Nebraska" and the ghostly stomp of "My Boyfrend's Back" -- it's clear that Pere Ubu still have plenty of good ideas and both the ability and the enthusiasm to execute them. And even on a flawed album, that's more than you can say about 90-percent of bands working these days, let alone one that's been together for three decades.

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