Seth Bogart gushes that overly sentimental pop-punk the Ramones began and the Exploding Hearts perfected.
For almost as long as the genre has existed, punk has been blending bubblegum pop with a snarling edge to create infectiously simple melodies. Seth Bogart is no stranger to either, and the former Hunx and His Punx frontman has finally released his first solo album. On this overly poppy, but still heavily crass release, Bogart’s certain style of pop-punk mixed with candy-coated pop plays over cheap Casio keyboards and pumping bass drums.
The 12-track EP is, if anything, fun. The songs are catchy and silly. The opening track, “Hollywood Squares,” sounds like a more produced version of a Japandroids song. It has that infectious mix of distorted guitars and simple, driving drum beats. Its tongue-in-cheek lyrics and lo-fi feel set the stage for the ditzy-yet-serious, punk-but-pop album to come.
From there, Seth Bogart gushes that overly sentimental pop-punk the Ramones began and the Exploding Hearts perfected. Along the way, he employs the incredibly talented Kathleen Hanna on the second track “Eating Making.” On it, Hanna croons “What color makeup looks good on my face?/ What color makeup am I gonna get today?” over a simple electronic beat. As well, the album features Cherry Glazerr’s Clementine Creezy on the seemingly Marilyn Manson-inspired track “Nina Hagen-Daaz,”Rookie magazine founder Tavi Gevinson on the doo-wop track “Barely 21,” Chela on the two tracks “Supermarket Supermodel” and “Flurt” and Jeremiah Nadya on the silly track “Lubed.”
What this album excels in, more than anything, is its embracing of cheesy pop-melodies and almost simplistic twee beats. When you go from track to track the bubblegum pop-punk succumbs to this enthusiastic, optimistic but always goofy brand of totally unique pop . It’s almost as if Seth Bogart has transcended the world of Bay Area catchy-punk of bands like Nobunny and the lo-fi twee of Ariel Pink and absorbed the grandiose aspects of ‘80s montage-music and the good-vibes of Top 40 pop.
“Club With Me” wouldn’t be out of place in an ‘80s or ‘90s straight-to-VHS movie about a nerdy kid who finally goes the club. It’s probably the purest techno song on the album, but it’s not without its own bizarre flair; an ultra-auto-tuned trebly vocal sings out the heart-warming lyrics. In a similar way, “Supermarket Supermodel” is probably the most pure pop track on the album.
But Bogart isn’t comfortable sticking to one genre, and the album is full of diverse styles and approaches to writing pop music. Along with the techno dance songs, there are downcast, minimalist tunes that take on a more solemn note. “Forgotten Fantazy” is a particularly heart-wrenching track. It starts with Bogart’s vocals sadly delivering lyrics over a Casio keyboard that eventually gives into a more developed, fuller sound. Similarly, the last track, “Sunday Boy,” takes on a comparably dower sentiment, while the tenth track, “Plastic!” adds a more latter New Order and the Go! Team to the mix.
Though it may technically be Seth Bogart’s debut solo album, he’s been perfecting his own brand of pop-punk since the days of Hunx. Then, it was distorted guitars and doo-wop melodies – songs that were tough and catchy, sweet and dirty. Now, it’s fully realized tracks full of moxie and electronics. But Seth Bogart has always been practicing one thing: writing pop-music. And on Seth Bogart, we are treated to that dedication to making fun, unique music.