Picks and Pans Review: The Monkey's Head in the Corner of the Room
updated 01/10/1983 AT 01:00 AM EST
•originally published 01/10/1983 AT 01:00 AM EST
A favorite foursome on Boston's New Wave scene, the Neats combine the melodies of American folk music with the urgencies of the most caustic British punk. The result is oddly appealing and hypnotic, like a combination of the Byrds and Elvis Costello. Eric Martin, the lead vocalist on this debut LP, also wrote most of the material. His fierce talk/sing style, not unlike the Talking Heads' David Byrne, is especially good on Tonight: "You can say what you mean/If you mean what you say/Do you know what I mean?" And the title track, where the simian head is said to "stare at me and smile," demonstrates the group's we're-paranoid-but-let's-not-take-it-all-too-seriously attitude. Musically, the guitars ricochet and cymbals clash, and it's clear that the town that spawned the J. Geils Band and the Cars has something brewing again, an approach to rock 'n' roll that represents not only a new wave but also one you can dance on.