Ween White Pepper (Elektra)

White Pepper (Elektra)

Ween

White Pepper (Elektra)

It's futile to try and figure out at any given moment what Ween are really up to. From high-pitched nerd-novelty to earnest old-style country, Gene and Dean Ween have mapped out a career course similar to little Billy's dotted line in Family Circus cartoons. With White Pepper, the notorious brothers Ween have more or less set their sights on glorifying, or perhaps destroying, the Seventies, and do so with much aplomb. "Bananas and Blow" is unmistakably Jimmy Buffett freed from the constraints of subtlety (no "shaker of salt" metaphors here) and "Stay Forever" is Gerry Rafferty, period. Other songs are more sneaky, with a lot of post-Beatles Lennon & McCartney-style pop included to show that these guys know how to compose a great hit song -- or at least something that would have been a hit 20-odd years ago. If this sounds like a similar path to the one recently trod by fellow unlikely major-label mainstays the Flaming Lips on The Soft Bulletin, try taking things ahead about five years and you've got the picture: Bulletin recreates the experimental, sometimes ugly beauty of late-Sixties/early-Seventies progressive pop, while Pepper skips forward to the big studio sound of the slick, pre-disco era, and does so without a slip. Scariest re-creation is "Even If You Don't," which sounds precisely like a lost track from early New Wavers /Lennon associates the Korgis -- or, to make a less obscure comparison, a lot like Tears For Fears' Beatlesque hit "Sowing the Seeds of Love."

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