[14 August 2000]
Columbia Records took a huge risk when they let one of their newest finds, Wheatus, make their label debut all by themselves. The group, which hails from Long Island, New York, won over local audiences while gaining the attention of many major labels. It was Columbia that laid the best cards out on the table to the guys who were happy that the label gave them the chance to produce the entire album on their own.
The result is a relatively decent album, with a couple of very memorable songs. The track that immediately comes to mind as one worth listening to is the lead off single “Teenage Dirtbag,” which tells the story of a geeky high school student liking the good looking girl, but having no chance to ever get near her because of her equally popular boyfriend.
“Teenage Dirtbag” is also a stand out because it speaks to a lot of younger listeners. Despite its humor, there is a lot of truth to the song. A lot of those not so popular teens will be able to identify with the dirtbag character, only hoping to one day date that perfect girl. Other bands are even noticing the strength of the single, like Eve 6, who recently sampled the chorus of the song within their hit single “Promise” on their Horrorscope tour.
Another strong tune is a very unique cover of Erasure’s “A Little Respect.” Wheatus converts it into a brisk acoustic number that contrasts sharply with the dance groove of the original. It’s refreshing to see an up and coming group take a semi-classic song from the last decade and not ruin or disrespect it.
Unfortunately, lead singer Brenden B. Brown’s squeaky, high pitched voice can be a bit of a pain at times, particularly on “Sunshine,” and “Leroy.” To make matters worse, the album also ends on a week note, with the sluggish “Wannabe Gangster.”
Despite the albums positive features, it’s a shame the group can’t keep their momentum throughout the entire project. Hopefully this material will make more of an impact when it is performed on stage. Wheatus is currently touring the nation with their label mates Zebrahead, in mostly club venues.
Published at: http://www.popmatters.com/pm/review/wheatus-st/