Review Summary: re-submit
Half the people I’ve heard from on Be Your Own Pet’s sophomore album were impressed with the band’s progression, with the restraint they’ve gained, the producer they’ve chosen and the lyrics they’ve written. The other half were far from it, and for almost the exact same reasons.
But Get Awkward really isn’t the kind of a record that’s worth getting riled up about, nor is Be Your Own Pet the kind of band. Four ridiculously energetic Nashville youths, BYOP carved out a niche as a punk band without ‘pretensions’, but lacking the really keen songwriting and the originality of certain peers. Regardless, they issued their self-titled Thurston Moore-released debut to praise nearly two years ago, and have appeared to age a considerable amount since. Still, to call Get Awkward ‘mature’ would be a vast overstatement. Jemina Pearl stills shouts and raves, and the band is every bit as brash, bratty and fun as before. However, the styles are more diverse, the playing considerably less sloppy and, perhaps the most noticeable difference, the lyrics have backbone. Where the self-titled was full of rants and hurried narratives, tracks like ‘Becky’ allow Jemina to really present songs as stories. Becky is about teenage homicide, and its gang-sung refrains of “We don’t like Becky anymore” and “Doesn't matter anyway, cuz I've got a brand new friend, okay/Me and her, we'll kick your ass,/we'll wait with knives after class!” are probably the album’s shining moments. The song operates in a really kitschy fashion, but with the addition of the guys’ background howls and their usual slapdash instrumentation, it’s doubtful any old fans will go running to the hills.
Or, at least you wouldn’t think so. The reality is Get Awkward is a far more sterile release than the self-titled. The production is cleaner, the songs far more rehearsed and deliberately catchy, and the most aggravating part is Be Your Own Pet still try to sound like they don’t care. However, it might be forgivable if Get Awkward had the songs to back up the attitude. And it just doesn’t quite make the cut.
It’s not really bad though. Tracks like Twisted Nerve and leak-exempt album opener Super Soaked show BYOP as a force to reckoned with, the same ravenous garage/punk band some people really dug. Jonas Stein’s guitar is gritty and full of tension, the bass playing is harrowing at worst, and the drums, an element of the bands sound that some have deemed “their secret weapon” remain terribly precise. But a good portion of Get Awkward finds a way to retain these fine traits, but still manages to make songs that seem forced, trite or just uncomfortable to listen to. Get Awkward, as an album, is a step up, and it certainly has highs and lows, but what I’m really missing here are things like "Bicycle Bicycle, You Are My Bicycle" or even “October, First Account,” songs that really stick out. Now, Be Your Own Pet were never really original, but it’s a crying shame Get Awkward did nothing to remedy this but add a layer of production gloss and a few odd forays into diversity.