Picks and Pans Review: Beelzebubba

updated 11/21/1988 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 11/21/1988 AT 01:00 AM EST

The Dead Milkmen

This squirrelly Philadelphia punk quartet has never let lack of musical ability stand in the way of their recording career. With this album, though, they've actually made some advances on the instrumental front. RC's Mom features a horn section; Born to Love Volcanoes has a string arrangement (!), and Brat in the Frat sounds like a balalaika orchestra performing a drinking song after a bit too much vodka. Never mind. Though the music is less primitive than on previous Milkmen records, there is an abundance of speedy, spare punk manifestos like Bad Party and Everybody's Got Nice Stuff but Me, and it's the band's skewed sense of humor that has always set them apart. Beelzebubba contains funny, disparaging references to cultural icons from Bob (Hogan's Heroes) Crane to James Brown. As always, however, the Milkmen reserve special animosity for the hippie era, as evidenced on this album by Smokin' Banana Peels. Some of the songs are more disturbing than amusing, like Stuart—the ramblings of a trailer-park crackpot with Birchite leanings. In all, there are 17 selections on Beelzebubba. Some are just melodic snatches; others amount to little more than a snazzy title, like My Many Smells. That brevity is a blessing. You won't find the Dead Milkmen beating any dead horses. They just tickle one and move on to their next victim. (Fever/Enigma)

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