Parodies of religious zealotry can range from scathingly on target to ham-fistedly obvious. Thankfully, the Causey Way leans more toward the former. Its Web site, www.thecauseyway.com, is so poker-faced that someone stumbling upon it could mistake it for the real deal. Sadly, the Causey guide to living makes more sense than those of most real fringe groups; the members have built up a substantial philosophical mythology, smartly blurring the line between fact and embellishment. So where is The Truth? Uh, she plays bass -- all of the faithful get new names when they attain true Causeyness, or whatever.
But what about the music, you ask? While the band claims to be merely an adjunct to a greater spiritual message, the audio aspect of that message is one darned catchy punk-pop hodgepodge. The group likes to call it "Pulpit Punk" and "New Testament Wave," and those are fairly apt descriptors, with the Way's effect-drenched surf guitar riffs and driving drumbeats mixing it up with burping analog synths and machine-driven electro-squiggle. Full-bore rockers alternate with softer numbers cooed by one or more of the sultry-voiced female Causeyans (don't look to the liner notes for help on who does what). The congregation manages to cobble a slew of "sounds like" moments into something resembling an original work, producing pieces vaguely reminiscent of everything from the B-52's and their early-'80s ilk to the Pixies, Portishead, and Man or Astro-Man? Subject-wise, all the requisite bunker-religion issues are here -- love, lust, satisfaction, money, guns, UFOs.
From the piano intro of "Te Como Vivo" to the "rock and roll will never die" coda on "U.F.O.," the Causey Way delivers 13 curiously solid tracks in little over half an hour. No doubt the more anthemic songs will translate well at the band's live "Faith Explosion Sermons" show, and playing San Francisco on Bush's Inauguration Day (the 20th) should only heighten the delirium. Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition, indeed.