The Downtown Fiction
Let’s Be Animals
By Al Kaufman
It’s probably Green Day’s fault for making punk so popular and accessible. But at least Green Day still has a chip on their shoulder. They’re still fighting the man, even if they are doing it from Broadway.
All The Downtown Fiction wants to do is sell records. And they should sell a lot of them with Let’s Be Animals. It’s full of infectious melodies that are forgotten as soon as the next song comes on. And it cops just enough attitude to make the good kids think they are rebelling.
The boppy and swarmy “Thanks for Nothing” sets the tone. The perfectly-coiffed Cameron Leahy shoots for street cred with lines like, “I’m taking it easy in the worst part of town,” and shows off his potty mouth with “Thanks for nothing, kiss my ass.” And that’s as bad as it gets. What makes this punk kid so angry? Why, his girlfriend broke up with him, of course. But it drives along at a Blink-182 pace and gets the air drummers working.
The closest they come to the blistering guitar punk sound is the sanitized-for-your-protection sound of “Stoned.” “I met a girl and I feel stoned.” Maroon 5 fans may find that line cool. Meanwhile, Sid Vicious is slitting his wrists in his grave.
Even a tune like the title track, “Let’s Be Animals,” whose title invokes endless amounts of possibilities, takes the obvious, safe route. For Leahy, uninhibited, animalistic fun consists of running naked through the streets and living in trees. Again, it’s fun, catchy pop, but there’s no danger, there’s no anger. The same can be said for “I Just Wanna Run.” Again, not fed up with society, but with a girl, all over a catchy melody.
The guitar gets a little meatier in “Alibi,” and the slightly symphonic “A Wonderful Surprise” is just that. Both songs, demonstrate that this Fairfax, Va. trio can be more than a mindless pop band. But a punk band? No.