Album Review — The Presidents of the United States of America: These Are The Good Times People

By  Gillian G. Gaar

The poppy-punky Presidents are as high-spirited as ever on their fifth album (in addition to being their first in three years).

Songs like “Truckstop Butterfly” and “Ladybug” seem to harken back to previous ditties like “Lump” and “Peaches,” which should please longtime listeners. But there was always a streak of darkness running through the Presidents’ songs that was usually overlooked.

And that’s just as true on this outing; that Ladybug isn’t faithful to her man, er, fellow bug, for instance, and that’s just one example of the twisted scenarios you’ll find here.

Such as the boy (vampire?) in “Sharpen Up Those Fangs,” who’s “not insane but never happy” (there’s a bumpersticker slogan waiting to happen), or the mourning widower in “More Bad Times” who bemoans the future misery he’ll be missing out on without his wife, or “Deleter,” a break-up song that’s surprisingly — but some how appropriately — fun.

Founding member Dave Dederer has been replaced by Andrew McKeag on “guitbass” (complementing primary songwriter Chris Ballew’s “basitar”). The group has also added a horn section on three numbers, which gives the songs an additional swing (especially on “Flame Is Love”).

It’s a touch of musical diversity that also sees them moving into different genres with ease, like on the countrified “Truckstop Butterfly.” And who else could pull off a song about surviving a nuclear holocaust and make it sound like the party’s just begun, as they do in “Warhead” (which also has a nice moment of stuttering that’ll make you think your CD player is on the fritz). Overall, Good Times is an album that should keep the Presidents and their fans hopping for some time to come.

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