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Album Review

As the Presidents of the United States of America were turning out novelty hits in the mid-'90s, it was easy to take them for granted, ignore them, or even hate them, depending on your disposition. First of all, they were stuck in the midst of a flood of post-grunge guitar bands that turned on the fuzz boxes, bashed out a few chords, and occasionally hit a hook or two. POTUSA weren't all that musically dissimilar from those punk-popsters and sludge rockers, except for their knack for ingratiatingly catchy hooks and a relentlessly irreverent sense of humor. That humor could come off as silly or smug, especially when placed in the context of the age of uber-irony. Once that age died in the late '90s, so did the Presidents and the band disappeared, only to surface again with Freaked Out and Small on a small indie label in the fall of 2000. Apart from the times, not much has changed with the Presidents, who still make catchy, punky pop tunes, but dammit if they don't sound better than they ever did. Maybe it's because the album stands in direct contrast with the teen pop and rap-rock that dominate the mainstream rock audience, or maybe it's because their jokes are now clever and silly, the production is varied, the songs are breezy, melodic, and catchy. Or maybe it's just because in this stripped-back production, the band never sounds self-conscious. They just sound like they're having fun, and that fun is contagious — something that wasn't always true with their first two albums. Maybe the Presidents are just blessed with fortunate timing, releasing this album in a year nearly devoid of fun, hooks, and silliness, or maybe they really have gotten better. Either way, Freaked Out and Small feels like the best record they've ever done. Chances are, it's the one that the least amount of people will hear, but anyone that seeks it out will be surprised by how much fun it is.

Customer Reviews

Nice Change for PUSA

Freaked Out And Small sounds nothing like previous PUSA albums. They've become much more punky than before. I like the change -- it feels much more natural. Tiny Explosions: 4/5 A catchy song but it is very repetitive. Nuthin But Love: 3/5 This song never really picks up. Tiger Bomb: 4/5 A good slow song with nice lyrics. Last Girl On Earth: 4/5 I love the guitar in this song. The lyrics are good to. Jazz Guy: 2/5 Repetitive. It has standard PUSA humor in it, though. Meanwhile Back In the City: 3/5 Has the old PUSA sound and lyrics. Jupiter: 5/5 My favorite song on this album. Catchy lyrics and tune. I hope the Presidents make more songs like this. Superstar: 2/5 This song sounds a lot like They Might Be Giants. It's too slow for me. Death Star: 3/5 Funny lyrics. This also sounds like TMBG. Slow too. Blank Baby: 4/5 Old PUSA sound. Confusing lyrics, though. I'm Mad: 4/5 Good louder/faster song to pick this album up. Headin Out: 4/5 Slow song with meaningful lyrics. Velvet Universe: 3/5 Very twangy like older PUSA albums. If you don't like their new sound listen to this. Hand In Hand: 2/5 Never picks up. It tends to drone on. The bonus demos are also a plus.

Shockingly Good

They Presidents still have it. I recomend Tiny Explosions, Jupiter, Tiger Bomb, and Meanwhile Back in the City especialy. How come their 2nd Album isn't available on iTunes? It's even better than this one.

This Album is Genuinely Amazing.

There's really not much more to say. If there was a musical equivalent of sex I think that this album is it. Every one of these songs is pure genius, especially the demos. So, turn-up your speakers, rock out, and keep up the good work. -The Whig Party


Formed: 1990 in Seattle, WA

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

The Presidents of the United States of America were one of the most unlikely success stories of the post-grunge alternative rock scene in Seattle. Where the rest of their Seattle brethren traded in heavy guitars and heavy angst, the Presidents rejected torment for humor, writing short, simple, and absurd punk songs that relied more on goofy attitude than sludgy riffs and tormented screams. It was a formula that worked, as the group's self-titled debut album became a double-platinum record much to...
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