The underground rock scene of the 1980s nurtured a batch of angry young bands that perfected a new variety of rough yet articulate rock. While a few leading groups, such as Hüsker Dü, have re-formed into new and less successful outfits, Agitpop still thrives after eight years and keeps the genre vital.
Stick It! lives up to its aggressive title; no sing-alongs, no comforting choruses about a bright future. Like a close friend who dares to tell you a difficult truth, this trio from Poughkeepsie, N.Y., bluntly delivers hoarse, sarcastic lyrics and unadorned electric guitars. On this album, Agitpop even goes without the toy instruments and quirky effects that lightened the band's 1988 release Open Seasons.
The straightforward approach helps Stick It! speak for a disillusioned segment of the younger generation. (John DeVries, Mark LaFalce and Rick Crescini are all 28.) Many of the songs, both in sound and words, capture the turning point when carefree young people suddenly realize that they've inherited nuclear bombs, pollution, a drug epidemic and a series of miscellaneous world problems. "Up to Here with You" ostensibly describes the end of a relationship but includes enough nature images to double as a worried ecology report. "Bullet" gives the bio of a Wall Street warrior who shoots to the top of an emotionally bankrupt white-collar world, then self-destructs.
As grim as it sounds, there's something uplifting in Agitpop's latest tirade. Singing from the gut, this band identifies nagging problems and eases them some with the cleansing pain of a cathartic roar. (Twin Tone)