Scottish indie rock act Bis' overtures were expressed rather neatly in its 1997 single "Tell It to the Kids": "And now, coming through the airwaves into your home/Introducing the new transistor heroes." San Francisco's hey willpower lacks a similar expressive salutation, but it shares Bis' affinity for trash culture, "kandy pop," and smug phrasing.
hey willpower eschews caps as much as it does any sense of adult maturity. The group's debut release, P.D.A., is full of enough lyrical piffle to convince you that chief songwriter Will Schwartz (who also plays in Imperial Teen) would draw just as much joy assembling a monkeys' tea party as he would pop songs. From "Magic Window": "With you my work is never done/Be there from Lent to Ramadan," or "I can make you scream/I'm better than a Krispy Kreme."
The six-piece outfit works within simple dance-pop parameters. The
dinky, ebullient melody of "Hundredaire" mimics the Wake's "Crush the
Flowers" or Outkast's "Hey Ya!" Off the Wall--era Michael Jackson is
hinted at in the disco textures and breathy background vocals of "Not
Trippin'." Electronic musician Tomo Yasuda ensures that P.D.A.'s bass
throbs and that its rhythms titillate, but any carnal dancefloor
tension is quickly sapped by Schwartz, whose preteen sex metaphors rank
somewhere between trip-hop artist Earthling and Paul Stanley of Kiss.
Immaturity isn't necessarily a sin, but when it's used to mask the fact
that you have nothing interesting to say ... well, that's a strike
against any new transistor hero.
Friday, January 16, the
Vagabond, 30 NE 14th St., Miami. Doors open at 10 p.m. Admission is
free before midnight; $5 until 3 a.m. Ages 21+ with ID. 305-379-0508; www.thevagabondmiami.com.
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January 17, with Zombies! Organize!! and Steph Taylor and the State Of.
Respectable St. Café, 518 Clematis St., West Palm Beach. Show starts at
8 p.m.; tickets cost $8. Ages 18+ with ID. 561-832-9999; www.respectablestreet.com.
-- Ryan Foley