Jacuzzi Boys: Ping Pong

Jacuzzi Boys' new album, Ping Pong, enters swinging. This little garage rock band of boys might have matured a bit.

Jacuzzi Boys

Ping Pong

Label: Virtual Label
US Release Date: 2016-11-11
UK Release Date: Import

Jacuzzi Boys are often categorized as ‘garage rock’ and are talked about accordingly. Google a Jacuzzi Boys review, and you'll be hard-pressed to find one that does not frame the review as a “garage rock makeover” in some way. This is not completely inaccurate, as the band writes simple, guitar-based songs with fuzzy bass and often absurd lyrics. Although on Ping Pong there is so much more happening. Opening track “Lucky Blade” is in many ways a rehash of the sounds we’ve heard from this Miami band before -- big fuzzy chords, sneering vocals, and a simple construction. But there is something more confident and nuanced happening here: the group has taken some cues from the garage rock canon, but has developed into something more singular.

Jacuzzi Boys’ first album, 2009’s No Seasons , is the root cause of the garage rock term that has been attached to them since. The album is grungy and fun, of course, but it lives up to its categorization and little else. 2011’s Glazin’ saw the group adding swagger into the mix with tracks like “Born Dancer” sounding like T. Rex without qualification. 2013’s self-titled effort saw the group working on expanding their sound palette -- the guitars are bigger, the tones more varied, and there’s a ton of noise going on in the background. In hindsight, all of these albums, although worth your time, sound like steps towards Ping Pong. The group has meshed all their skills acquired over the years into one vast and varied yet solid structure.

“New Cross” starts out a sonic speed and never slows down, and with lyrics like “tie me down with bubble gum”, it could fit quite well on No Seasons. In other places, the group cribs from the Ramones more than ever before. To my ears, “Strange Exchange” is the best send-up of '80s Ramones ever put on tape. The following track, “Iodine”, starts with a Ramones riff straight out of Pleasant Dreams as well. Elsewhere, they seem to take on classic rock tropes. “Boys Like Blood” postures like a tough guy song, announcing that “Girls like love, and boys like blood” with all the confidence and swagger of ‘72 Mick Jagger. “Seventeen” focuses on one of the main fascinations of classic rock artists: rebellious youth. Over a slow groove led by the bass player, the group sings, “I’m seeing blue, staring at the teenage moon. We’re not like them, but sometimes it’s fun to pretend.”

To close the album, Jacuzzi Boys succeeds in playing with psychedelia on the six-plus minute “Tip of My Tongue/Edge of My Brain”. The track begins as a Beatles homage, somehow sweeps into Ramones territory, and then morphs into something all its own. And that seems to be the key to the album right there: taking what you know and having the expertise and confidence to make it into a brand new brew—your own brew, that is.






PM Picks Playlist 1: Rett Madison, Folk Devils + More

The first PopMatters Picks Playlist column features searing Americana from Rett Madison, synthpop from Everything and Everybody, the stunning electropop of Jodie Nicholson, the return of post-punk's Folk Devils, and the glammy pop of Baby FuzZ.


David Lazar's 'Celeste Holm  Syndrome' Appreciates Hollywood's Unsung Character Actors

David Lazar's Celeste Holm Syndrome documents how character actor work is about scene-defining, not scene-stealing.


David Lord Salutes Collaborators With "Cloud Ear" (premiere)

David Lord teams with Jeff Parker (Tortoise) and Chad Taylor (Chicago Underground) for a new collection of sweeping, frequently meditative compositions. The results are jazz for a still-distant future that's still rooted in tradition.


Laraaji Takes a "Quiet Journey" (premiere +interview)

Afro Transcendentalist Laraaji prepares his second album of 2020, the meditative Moon Piano, recorded inside a Brooklyn church. The record is an example of what the artist refers to as "pulling music from the sky".


Blues' Johnny Ray Daniels Sings About "Somewhere to Lay My Head" (premiere)

Johnny Ray Daniels' "Somewhere to Lay My Head" is from new compilation that's a companion to a book detailing the work of artist/musician/folklorist Freeman Vines. Vines chronicles racism and injustice via his work.


The Band of Heathens Find That Life Keeps Getting 'Stranger'

The tracks on the Band of Heathens' Stranger are mostly fun, even when on serious topics, because what other choice is there? We all may have different ideas on how to deal with problems, but we are all in this together.


Landowner's 'Consultant' Is OCD-Post-Punk With Obsessive Precision

Landowner's Consultant has all the energy of a punk-rock record but none of the distorted power chords.


NYFF: 'American Utopia' Sets a Glorious Tone for Our Difficult Times

Spike Lee's crisp concert film of David Byrne's Broadway show, American Utopia, embraces the hopes and anxieties of the present moment.


South Africa's Phelimuncasi Thrill with Their Gqom Beats on '2013-2019'

A new Phelimuncasi anthology from Nyege Nyege Tapes introduces listeners to gqom and the dancefloors of Durban, South Africa.


Wolf Parade's 'Apologies to the Queen Mary' Turns 15

Wolf Parade's debut, Apologies to the Queen Mary, is an indie rock classic. It's a testament to how creative, vital, and exciting the indie rock scene felt in the 2000s.


What 'O Brother, Where Art Thou?' Gets Right (and Wrong) About America

Telling the tale of the cyclops through the lens of high and low culture, in O'Brother, Where Art Thou? the Coens hammer home a fatalistic criticism about the ways that commerce, violence, and cosmetic Christianity prevail in American society .


Literary Scholar Andrew H. Miller On Solitude As a Common Bond

Andrew H. Miller's On Not Being Someone Else considers how contemplating other possibilities for one's life is a way of creating meaning in the life one leads.


Fransancisco's "This Woman's Work" Cover Is Inspired By Heartache (premiere)

Indie-folk brothers Fransancisco dedicate their take on Kate Bush's "This Woman's Work" to all mothers who have lost a child.


Rodd Rathjen Discusses 'Buoyancy', His Film About Modern Slavery

Rodd Rathjen's directorial feature debut, Buoyancy, seeks to give a voice to the voiceless men and boys who are victims of slavery in Southeast Asia.


Hear the New, Classic Pop of the Parson Red Heads' "Turn Around" (premiere)

The Parson Red Heads' "Turn Around" is a pop tune, but pop as heard through ears more attuned to AM radio's glory days rather than streaming playlists and studio trickery.


Blitzen Trapper on the Afterlife, Schizophrenia, Civil Unrest and Our Place in the Cosmos

Influenced by the Tibetan Book of the Dead, Blitzen Trapper's new album Holy Smokes, Future Jokes plumbs the comedic horror of the human condition.


Chris Smither's "What I Do" Is an Honest Response to Old Questions (premiere + interview)

How does Chris Smither play guitar that way? What impact does New Orleans have on his music? He might not be able to answer those questions directly but he can sure write a song about it.

Love in the Time of Coronavirus

Fire in the Time of Coronavirus

If we venture out our front door we might inhale both a deadly virus and pinpoint flakes of ash. If we turn back in fear we may no longer have a door behind us.

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.