Raised on the 80’s version of The B-52’s and their Cosmic Thing album, I wasn’t prepared for their debut album to be what it was. As lighthearted as it was lyrically and musically, there wasn’t much that was for me on this album.
In the late 70’s, it sounds like they were doing less traditional, more intentionally wacky music and it’s just…a lot. Sometimes there’s straight-up shrieking or imitation dolphin noises and, though it’s somehow melodic, it’s nothing I would choose to listen to repeatedly if it weren’t part of this project.
The album’s Wikipedia helps to give the style a little more context in better wording than I could come up with. I’m not a surf rock aficionado, so a lot of the nuance here is lost on me. I can’t even make sense of the Rock Lobster video – not that I’m sure that’s even possible or a worthy goal at all. And I’m not down on intentional nonsense as fun! It kind of reminds me of early Nickelodeon interstitials. But I don’t really connect with that style, it’s not something I could peacefully zone out to or conversely, get hyped up on (the music more so than the video style.)
The final track was an adaptation of “Downtown.” It’s listed as a cover but it’s so different from the original as to be almost unrecognizable. I don’t even really know what to say about it, other than it was a fun trivia fact to find out for an album that inspired more confusion than excitement for me.
I dug up a remastered video of Planet Claire which features some fun dancing, some hair…choices. Also, speaking of hair choices, I’m not sure why there are two Rock Lobster videos but this one is a pure live performance and the haircuts alone make it worth checking out.
I have to imagine, if you like jam bands or saw them live, it would be a completely different experience. They sound as fun as they ever have and I’m glad I spent some time with this album to get some weird history on a weird and fun band, but I’m also glad to move onto something else.