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Break It Up

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Album Review

The title of Jemina Pearl's first post-Be Your Own Pet album, Break It Up, could apply to a fight or a band — and in Pearl's case, it's a little of both. Be Your Own Pet's music and attitude (especially on-stage) were so riotous that it was clear they wouldn't last long. The band folded not too long after the release of its second album, Get Awkward, which had one of its best songs, "Becky," cut from the official release because its nasty update of girl group pop was deemed too violent by the record label. It's no coincidence that some of that song's mix of sugar and spite resurfaces on Break It Up, since Pearl wrote the track with Be Your Own Pet drummer John Eatherly and he remains her chief collaborator here. The pair worked with producer John Agnello on these songs, and even though they're far more polished and sedate than Be Your Own Pet were at their tamest, Pearl and Eatherly still specialize in twisted pop with a mean streak. This time, however, they draw from influences like Blondie and the Go-Go's and collaborators who include David Sitek, Redd Kross' Steve McDonald, that dog.'s Anna Waronker, and Thurston Moore (who lends some of his effortless cool to "D Is for Danger"'s backing vocals). It's Iggy Pop, however, who contributes Break It Up's standout "I Hate People," a love song for misanthropes that updates punk's penchant for subverting '50s and early-'60s pop and rock. Pearl isn't a particularly nuanced singer, but she still gets to explore sounds and moods that wouldn't have been possible with Be Your Own Pet's brand of chaos. Though there are a few songs ("Looking for Trouble," "So Sick") that don't stray far from Eatherly and Pearl's previous band, she discovers new shades of being a bad — or more accurately, independent — girl with tracks like "Ecstatic Appeal," an unabashedly girly song about not needing any old guy because she's a Gemini and therefore never lonely, and the brooding death wish pop of "Retrograde." Still, Break It Up's highlights are the songs that feel the most autobiographical. "Nashville Shores" sums up her time in that city with the one-two lyrical punch "Boys are bad! Beer is cheap!" and she waves "goodbye with a middle finger" on the fiery "Band on the Run." Pearl and Eatherly don't escape their past entirely on Break It Up, but they're well on their way to waving goodbye to it.


Born: 20 June 1987

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '00s

After the demise of Nashville punks Be Your Own Pet in summer 2008, singer Jemina Pearl continued to collaborate with drummer John Eatherly. With Eatherly on guitar, they began writing songs that combined their former band's snarl and spastic energy with pop and new wave influences. Sonic Youth's Thurston Moore, who also runs Be Your Own Pet's label, Ecstatic Peace!, introduced the pair to producer John Agnello, and the pair began working with him on a batch of songs that recalled "Becky," the '60s...
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Break It Up, Jemina Pearl
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