The Frenchmen

Sorry We Ruined Your Party

Forget about Green Day, Rancid, and the Offspring -- the best pop-punk came from mid-'80s English acts like the Wedding Present, the Shop Assistants, and the Flatmates. The U.K. music press called these bands "C-86," which meant nothing more than a mad combination of the Ramones and the Byrds -- super-fast tempos; overdriven, jangly guitars; atonal yet sweet vocals; and a lyrical obsession with heartbreak. Every couple of years, the form resurfaces, blasting forth from the likes of Tiger Trap, the Aislers Set, and now the Frenchmen. The latter Sacramento group's debut long-player is just as catchy, shambling, and noise-happy as its predecessors' work. Although the boys and girls don't always sing on key, they make up for it with rampant enthusiasm, bashing their way from one hook to the next, as if the Who were driving a semi through the Ronettes' back catalog. This is music for leaping around living rooms, "drinking beer and talking shit," as one lyric suggests. Looks like you don't need a mohawk to be punk after all.

 
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