Friday, May 29, 2009

Pansy Division -- That's So Gay

Pansy Division -- That’s So Gay (Alternative Tentacles)

“I’ve had 20 years of cock/and I’m never gonna stop.” Yep, Pansy Division has been with us for two decades, continuing to provide good humored pro-gay power pop. As an ultra liberal straight guy, I laugh along, and just think it’s cool that Jon Ginoli and his mates are so up front in celebrating their sexuality. It’s possible that Pansy Division can help demystify homosexuality for some younger folks and give confidence to others. It’s also likely that there are some factions within the gay community who don’t like songs like “Ride Baby” (which is about sex, not bike riding) or “Twinkie Twinkie Little Star” (which starts off with these great lyrics: “He’s in his PJs giving BJs to the DJs/who play what he’s likes.”)

In the end (oh, that’s could be interpreted as a pun!), none of this would matter if the music wasn’t any good. But Ginoli and Chris Freeman write strong hooky rock songs that never overstay their welcome. Moreover, the frivolity is always leavened with a few more sober songs.

Two songs that fit the bill on this effort are “Life Lovers” and “Some of My Best Friends”. The latter song is billed as the first Pansy Division song penned by a breeder -- lead guitarist Joel Reader. Okay, this isn’t the most serious political commentary, but Reader succinctly lets the world know that homophobia sucks: “I may not be gay, but I know this much is true/I’d rather fuck an asshole than be one just like you.” Way to go, Joel!

“Life Lovers” is the final track on the album and it’s an impassioned song about two guys living on the down low (well, at least one of them is). In characteristic Pansy Division fashion, the music here is less bouncy and more dramatic. Okay, maybe this song promotes cuckolding, but the larger point is that you can have feeling for someone of the same sex that go beyond friendship and act on them without messing up the rest of your life (which may or may not be true). Regardless, this song has a real edge to it and might provoke some thinking. Yep, thinking.

I should also mention the rip on folks whose anti-gay feeling run too high, “Obsessed With Me”. “Ted Haggard, Larry Craig, getting caught getting laid/there’s a price to be paid when you’re obsessed with me.” Point well taken.

Of course, there is plenty of fun to be had. I giggle every time I hear “Pat Me on the Ass”, a modified Bo Diddley beat pop tune. Ginoli extols the virtues of high school sports, as it provides so many opportunities for ass patting (see how direct the title is?). Meanwhile, “What’s In It For Me” is Freeman’s best tune on the collection. It’s about a relationship where they are either fucking or fighting. The music is somewhere between Fountains Of Wayne and Too Much Joy, and this might have the strongest hook on the album.

While probably not the best Pansy Division record, after 20 years, they are still full of spunk (yes, pun intended) and making good records. Here’s to 20 more years.


Matt Berlyant said...

I always liked Pansy Division and I echo your sentiments completely.

The last time they played here, they opened for The Avengers (who they share a couple of members with) and it was awesome! It had been 14 years since I'd last seen them. That time they were great, too (they played with God is My Co-Pilot).

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