Picks and Pans Review: I Crush Bozo

updated 11/14/1988 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 11/14/1988 AT 01:00 AM EST

The Happy Flowers

It's the middle of the night. He is about 10 years old. He has been stuck in bed for days with a fever. He opens his eyes in the stuffy, dark room and suddenly his heart flip-flops. "What's that sound coming down the hall?" his mind sings out frantically. "I think it's those green pillows from downstairs/ I think they're coming to smother me/ They know I'm in bed/ They know I'm weak .../ Mom! Dad! Somebody help me!" Ah—those tender memories of childhood panic. For anyone who has forgotten them, they're back bigger than life in Fever Dream, about those green pillows, and in the other hilarious, ear-crunching pseudo-songs of the Happy Flowers. Calling themselves, with oodles more boldness than taste, Mr. Horribly Charred Infant and Mr. Anus, the two University of Virginia students who make up the Flowers (perhaps wisely, they won't reveal their real names) cover a wide range of childhood traumas on their second album. They discuss what it's like to be the stupid one in the family, the bloody outcome of reaching under a running lawnmower to retrieve a Frisbee, the chronic fear—remember this one?—that their toenails will get stuck in the top of their shoes and rip right off their feet, and the terror of finding one's picture mixed in with the abducted children on the back of a milk carton. While the standard love-hate themes of rock music can be conveyed with mere yelling or whining, the Happy Flowers favor a more extreme mode of communication. Screaming with such wild abandon they make Alice Cooper sound like Perry Como, the Flowers seem near a double nervous breakdown on every song, and they accompany themselves with a barrage of echoes, fuzz, squeals and crashes as they gleefully abuse their guitars and drums. Yet even people who hate music that thrives on volume may find themselves laughing out loud at these songs. A slightly less shocking introduction to the two Virginia cavaliers is their 1987 My Skin Covers My Body. That album's depiction of a kid who has been left behind at a gas station by his parents and of another boy who is pinned down and kissed by a creepy girl during recess are just about the closest an adult can get to being 10 again, assuming he or she wants to. (Homestead)

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