Guttermouth: Gusto

[2 March 2003]

By Nikki Tranter

Taking Chances

Loud, rude and full of the silliest rhymes this side of a Sir Mix-A-Lot tape, Guttermouth’s latest, Gusto is 14 ridiculously charming songs about love, truth, and the healing powers of rockin’ out. The band rarely takes itself very seriously, leaving the door wide open for its stylized lunacy to leap through and bring a smile to the face of even the most staid listener.

Guttermouth’s brand of energetic punk rock puts a grand spin on the reemergence of the genre. Though much of Gusto‘s lyrics are caustic and funny, they are very much grounded in reality—even if it is the reality of a bunch of skirt-chasing, beer-swilling lads from Orange County—and remove the band from the current crop of punksters trying far too hard to say something meaningful in their down-and-out-cynical-bastard songs (Good Charlotte’s “Lifestyles of the Rich and the Famous” anyone?). Singer, Mark Adkins explains: “We were just one of the many little bands who sang songs from the heart and did it because we weren’t into the status quo bullshit that was going on musically. We chose to sing about real stuff.”

Adkins succeeds in doing this on the new record. His songs, about everything from a fucked-up chick he just has to see naked (on “Campfire Girl #62”) to the size of his dick (on “Foot-Long”), may be juvenile and repugnant, they’re sassy and instantly likeable.

Take “Pee in the Shower”, for example: Adkins is unapologetic in his need to be completely up front. “I know I’m not always right / But how can we make babies / If you won’t spend the night” he sings, entirely hopeful all the while that this kind of self-deprecating honesty will eventually win over his skeptical lady-friend. He goes on to say: “Just because I live like an animal / Room smells like a petting zoo / Some times I go pee in the shower / It does not mean I don’t love you”—see, reality! How could anyone not love that kind of impenitent sincerity?

“Twins” documents Adkins’ desire to be so close to a girl, they become Siamese twins, “joined at the hip / walking down the Sunset Strip”; “My Girlfriend” is about a chick who would rather stage dive at a Bad Religion show than go see a movie; the title song is somewhat gloomy, about a guy who takes a chance and decides to do something drastic when out with his best girl; and the delicious “Scholarship in Punk” is all about what the Guttermouth boys wished they could have studied in high school.

While much of Gusto is filled with loveable and upbeat tunes, Guttermouth does occasionally take some serious time out. “Contribution” is a nifty little number damning society’s damaged—they’ll get no sympathy from Adkins and Co. Thought the song is, at times, quite harsh—“Not gonna volunteer my time to cracked out mothers / All the others / Who wasted every chance they were given”—it manages to showcase Guttermouth’s particularly smart outlook on society and their fearless desire to do just what Adkins stated—sing from the heart.

Sometimes serious and quite often downright silly, Guttermouth’s Gusto is always great fun.

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