Buzz bands get a bad rap. In a musical landscape where long careers are the goal and chart turnover is virtually nonexistent, they’re viewed as here today, gone tomorrow critical trifles who didn’t have the ideas or the ability to maintain sustained success gifted to them by a chosen few media outlets. Sometimes, when a hyped act creates an album that’s embarrassingly of its time, this is a fair assessment. However there were a handful of bands in the “blog-buzz” era who truly managed to thrive during their window with an enormously powerful record.
Case in point: Be Your Own Pet, whose raucous, self-titled slice of teenage vitriol turns 10 on March 27.
Though the band was much discussed by tastemakers at the time, I didn’t find BYOP through the hype machine. I was introduced to Jemina Pearl and Co. when they opened for the proto-Blog Buzz crossover band: Arctic Monkeys.
It seemed like the small crew I’d brought with me were the only people in the house who dug it. The crowd nearer to the stage started booing and chanting “No more sh*t! No more sh*t!” Pearl leaned over one of the chanting bros and said “No more sh*t?” Before spitting in his face. Needless to say, I was in love.
Their debut album fully lived up to their wild performance, a hocked loogy in the face of prim and proper indie pop. Rather than trying to sound wise beyond her years, Pearl fully embraced the fact that she was a teenager with songs about adventuring, hormonal blowout arguments and murder fantasies.
BYOP was, and remains, an excellent album full of angry peals towards the heavens and much more personal f*ck you’s aimed at eye-level. While the band released one more album before calling it quits in 2008, they never quite reached the heights of their first full-length again. And honestly, that’s okay.
Be Your Own Pet steered into the buzz-band skid and perhaps embraced the fleeting feeling of what fame could be. They laid it down plain and simple in the song “Bunk Trunk Skunk” with the lines “I’m an independent motherf*cker, and I’m here to take your money/ I’m f*cking rad and I’m here, to steal away your virginity.”
The Yeah Yeah Yeahs have had a much longer career and never came close to Fever To Tell. Clap Your Hands Say Yeah is all we ever need from them. Bon Iver isn’t topping For Emma, Forever Ago any time soon, and recent buzz bands like Chumped rigged the game by dropping out after their first full-length.
That doesn’t make the bands in question any less great. We shouldn’t need a band to remind us of its greatness over and over again to be properly celebrated. Like that young punk in Orlando dripping with Jemina’s spit on his face, we only need to be told once.