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PFFR - United We Doth

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Artist: PFFR

Album: United We Doth

Label: Birdman

Review date: Jan. 27, 2004

United We Doth is the debut full-length from PFFR, a rowdy co-ed outfit of mysterious origin and membership. The album’s a madcap and patchwork affair of equal parts verbal, rock, and electronic molestation. Straight from the anything-goes camp, PFFR leave no rule heeded; the only constant is unpredictability. The album staggers from messy dance tracks to noise meltdowns, synth-driven psychedelia to nonsense anthems, sometimes within a single song. And, instrumentally at least, PFFR succeed. Unfortunately, the lyrics work to reverse the musical gains with unfunny blue material and forced attempts at weirdness.

This is music that shoots straight from the crotch. PFFR’s members are engorged with sexual obsessions that have nothing to do with nuance. If only the album's relentless attempts at humor earned a chuckle. The lyrics, a towel fight between Post-Meathead locker room talk and Gertrude Stein’s baits and switches, would snap you nice between the eyes if the Post-Meatheads didn’t win, pin Stein to the tiled floor, and recite the following (from “Total Dicks”):

Open your mouth and catch my drift.
And by catch my drift I mean suck my dick.
Pretend my dick’s a big ice cream cone.
Now suck that shit like it was my dick.

PFFR lack the cleverness to wring humor from a blowjob mandate, and their apparent use of irony here is ill-fated. The parody falls so short that it’s unclear how much disdain they have for the misogynistic subject matter. As with many of PFFR’s lyrics, these are delivered in a smug deadpan that runs counter to the general frenzy of the music. Set high in the mix, the vocals overwhelm and neutralize their musical backing, spoiling what could have been solid instrumentals. As the attempts at humor fall flat, the vocals’ apathy simply transfers to the listener. Songs with the band’s female vocalists avoid deadpan and are generally strong. “I like it hard” fixes a dark, slippery beat up with a guitar part as dirty as the lyrics extolling erections. “Party Ice” is the album’s most innocent track, an entirely unforced dance tune (with nary a penis reference) that recalls the endearing sugar punk of The Rondelles.

Too self-conscious of their own quirkiness, PFFR detract attention from their songs and focus it on their failed attempts at strangeness. The conspicuous use of Nintendo-esque beeps make clear that PFFR aren’t as keen on creating textures as they are on sounding wacky. Snoop Dogg drops a few lines on the album’s disposable bookend tracks; his worthless contribution is intended to elicit freak appeal laughs. PFFR winks so hard here that their eyes must be sore. They don’t make strange music, they make “strange” music, and the quotation marks are theirs alone.

While PFFR’s orifice examination of schlock may not yield the album it’s looking for, they do show potential. “3 Murdered 5 Dead w/Phiiliip,” while not brilliant, is overridden by musical demons tugging it every which way. Rhythms don’t seem to drive this song as much as they spill out of it. It demonstrates PFFR’s strength for filling a song to its breaking point, then pouring on more. And while the strategy occasionally calls for editorial involvement, it can also turn a tune nasty in the good way.

By Sean Casey

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