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Absurd Pop Song Romance
lk198 (2006) CD - $10.00
Welcome to Absurd Pop Song Romance, a big leap in the evolution of Pansy Division. The modest, basic format of the early band has been transformed into a more diverse sprawl of sound, true to their old selves while expanding into areas that would utterly confound anyone trying to identify them in a blindfold test. Ingredients have been added to the stew--horns, strings, keyboards, as well as the ace lead guitar work of Patrick Goodwin, who has played with the band for a year, but has not recorded until now. The year of road work put into the songs with the new four-piece lineup is evident. The record was recorded by Steve Albini at his studio (Electrical Audio Recording) in Chicago, and it's the poppiest record Albini has ever done. Pansy Division took Steve's basic approach to sound and added their own touches: a true collaboration that sounds different than what either of them had come up with before. It's fuller, darker, more pop, and more rock. Pansy Division is a gay rock band. You know that already, and they know you know that already, so instead of reemphasizing that at every turn, the lyrical approach has become more general and universal, without losing the context of the band's founding ideals. OK, we dare to use the "m" word--it's more mature. There have always been songs like these on their previous albums, but never a whole album of them. And inbetween song bits give the album a consistent thematic flow. Direct from the band's personal stock!

"This record is a complete 90 degree turn from their earlier, more-gimmicky (though often funny & rad) albums. This really is a deep, many-layered record, and all of my friends think that I'm a freak for preferring this record over the earlier ones! Solid rock tunes with off-beat music and arrangements, heart-felt lyrics. Arg, have we all grown up?"
- Jesse Luscious (2000)

" When Pansy Division formed in 1993, they were the only game in town, if quirky, lo-fi queer punk was your bag. Band founder and songwriter Jon Ginoli had a knack for writing riffy, three-chord songs that gave clever rhyming structure to all forms of fornicatory declamation (as suggested by singles "Touch My Joe Camel" and "James Bondage"). If you were expecting more of the same, you might be unprepared for the triumphant surprise of Absurd Pop Song Romance. Many will be rushing to attribute the massive power-pop brilliance of this record to producer Steve Albini, but we shouldn't rule out the possibility that Ginoli's musical vocabulary is finally reaching articulation. He's confident enough to re-create the rock anthems his former songs only hinted at. While the basic point here is still male-male love, Ginoli has widened his focus on this disc. Songs like the Stones-y/Byrds-y "Sweet Insecurity" describe the nerve wreckage that accompanies a crush, homo or hetero. The guitar-blasting "It'll Never Be the Same" is jacked-up punk not too far-flung from Albini's own Big Black."
- Lois Maffeo of LOIS and COURTNEY LOVE

"Right from the top, Absurd Pop Song Romance conveys a sense that Pansy Division has evolved from its early days of no-holds-barred homocore. The first track is a brief, eerie sound sample, immediately followed by "February 17" -- a track with all the upbeat rock power of previous albums, but with a decidedly more serious, frustrated tone. On the other hand, the next track, "Sweet Insecurity," reverts to a happy, mellow pop/rock beat with sweet, self-doubting lyrics. The album proceeds to deftly flex various stylistic muscles, from anthemic rock riffs that pulse forward, to the simple power-chord pop-punk the band is renowned for. These shifts are something Pansy Division has proven to have a great talent for on its singles collections, but has not always used to full effect on its full-length albums. There is a notable movement away from predominantly sex- and queer-focused lyrics on Absurd Pop Song Romance, but singer/guitarist Jon Ginoli's earnest and humorous approach to subjects is retained in full, whether the tone is cynical or celebratory. All told, the album shows maturity of style while remaining true to Pansy Division's roots -- fun, honest, catchy, and energetic."
- All Music Guide



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