PWR BTTM – ‘Pageant’ Review

Score

Forthright, queer punk duo’s second album is a fun-filled discovery of self-belief

Nobody does fun quite like PWR BTTM. The New York duo of Liv Bruce and Ben Hopkins throw glitter and wild shapes on stage, and not one of their spirited live shows is like the other. Second album ‘Pageant’ follows 2015 debut and cult favourite ‘Ugly Cherries’. Both records give brutally honest, direct accounts of identifying as queer in a hostile environment, whether it’s being the subject of insults from across the street or seeing individuality as strength.

Not one of ‘Pageant’’s songs goes over the three-minute mark. PWR BTTM like to express witty, honesty-first stories via saw-toothed garage punk, which is no coincidence. In doing so, they embrace and take on a traditionally masculine genre usually reserved for crude d**k jokes. Opening track ‘Silly’ starts with a glorious, Van Halen-style finger-picked solo. And were it not for the title track’s sincere account about body confidence, it could be mistaken for a Green Day classic.

Bruce and Hopkins pack diary-like stories into punchy, fire-breathing juggernauts. The duo specialise in documenting their own struggles and self-doubt, but it’s always outward-facing. In turn, ‘Pageant’ becomes a calling card for anyone who feels like they can’t express themselves. “Curse that motherf**ker!” Hopkins shouts on ‘Big Beautiful Day’, damning all the “men in town who live to bring you down”. The paranoid ‘Answer My Text’ is an emoji-filled, modern-day twist on relationship woes. PWR BTTM have a skill for telling ultra-personal stories without any unnecessary baggage. “I’m beautiful and you can’t take it / I’m heavenly and you can’t deal,” they proudly shout on ‘Sissy’.

The duo use fun to become fearless, combating fear with every ounce of inner strength they can find. ‘Pageant’ is the sound of a band truly hitting their stride.

Details

Release Date: May 12, 2017
Record Label: Big Scary Monsters