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POP MUSIC | RECORD RACK

** 1/2 PRESIDENTS OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, "II," Columbia

November 03, 1996|Sara Scribner

Its songs are bouncy Technicolor cartoons, its playground a critter-land crib where froggies drive dune buggies and bugs throw beer bashes. Is it any shock that this group--hailing from grunge city, Seattle--has been tagged the Three Stooges of rock?

The Presidents' second album is a slight departure from the garage-rocking, no-holds-barred jam of their debut, a banzai surprise that went multiplatinum. Opening with an intro--"Good evening, ladies and gentlemen, are you prepared to rock?"--and closing with an outro, the Presidents present themselves as showmen, the ringmasters for their quirky circus.

The oddities are more songs about bugs ("Bug City"), frogs ("Froggie") and other normally neglected microcosmos-dwellers ("Twig"), but the band also takes on supermodels and dips into, yikes, real-life angst with "Bath of Fire."

"Puffy Little Shoes" is the shining star, with its shoop-shoop guitars and sly yet nonsensical words: "Little skinny chicken on my plate/Big skinny skinhead, he's up to here with hate/If I had a choice between those two/I'd obviously choose the one with the puffy little shoes." Deep social commentary this is not.

With their self-conscious flourishes, the themes don't sound as fresh the second time around, and this saps the music of some of its trademark highflying fun.

*

Albums are rated on a scale of one star (poor) to four stars (excellent).

TimesLine 808-8463

To hear excerpts from the albums reviewed, call TimesLine and press * and the artist's corresponding four-digit code. Presidents of the U.S.A. *5711

805 area code, call (818) 808-8463.

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