“Ask someone to feed your cat ’cause you won’t be back soon/ Lock your windows, lock all your doors, and remember your seasickness pills/ We’re going on a trip, so hop onto my ship.” And a total, vibrant trip is precisely what Drink Up Buttercup’s debut full-length Born And Thrown On A Hook (released March 23 on Yep Roc) is. There’s the spirit of a beautifully deranged dance hall, where clowns with ruddy facepaint dance with ladies (bearded and otherwise) in taffeta gowns until something catches fire.
A pleasantly shambolic but precisely-configured vibe hovers over this music, which has some of the same energy and twisty intelligence as fellow Philadelphia comers Dr. Dog and Man Man (possibly in part due to recording engineer Bill Moriarty, who’s worked with both bands). The mix by Rusty Santos (Animal Collective/Final Fantasy) is bright and engaging, offsetting some of DUB’s natural clamor and giving their teetering compositions a pointed trajectory.
Born And Thrown On A Hook fits nicely in the line with the tilted pop of Roxie Music, Bonzo Dog Band, Devo or XTC-in-disguise lark Dukes of the Stratosphear taken a wee more seriously than Andy Partridge and co. Perhaps the most apt ancestor – and I consider this a massive compliment – is the original lineup of 10cc with Godley & Creme, and Drink Up Buttercup keeps pace with them at their bonked, brilliant best. This is exciting music played in an excited way, but marbled with strange hooks and lyrics that stick. And definitely a frontrunner for most evocative album title of the year.