Some bands have a reputation of being better in concert than on record. Peelander-Z happens to be one of a handful of bands that could succeed without ever recording a note. The New York City-based Japanese punk group has made a career out of creating high energy live shows that combine anime-style comic book narratives, Ramones-influenced punk disarray, and a level of audience interaction that makes the fourth wall seem as though it never existed. To distill Peelander-Z’s theatrical art into a manufactured disc seems cruel and unusual.
That hasn’t stopped the band from trying, and P-Tv-Z is an admirable effort. The album sees the band bringing in a host of musicians for a palette that goes beyond the paint-by-Ramones style of punk the group relies on during live sets, allowing the band’s jokey songwriting to breathe and gain some complexity. Sure, some tunes sound like they could be on the hokey children’s show the album cover suggests, but that childlike playfulness is part of what fans love about Peelander-Z. Good thing Peelander-Z managed to capture that energy on record.