Hey Willpower PDA

[Tomlab; 2008]

Rating: 1.5/5

Styles: pop, bubblebaths, white kids who wanna, gotta have to DANCE!
Others: Imperial Teen, Sean Na Na, Gravy Train!!!

Hey Willpower is essentially the brainchild of Will Schwartz, songwriter of queercore pop favorites Imperial Teen. PDA, Hey Willpower's first longplayer, is supposedly an unabashed valentine to radio pop. All of the synth-pop squiggles and two-step 808 beats made popular by Timbaland, The Neptunes, Jimmy Jam, and Terry Lewis etc. are on full display. This record is obviously not meant to be taken seriously, so it's odd that, where it should seem effortless and fun, the album actually comes off uninspired and tedious. Most every song stays in the same tempo, structure, and instrumentation, leading to a really boring ‘party’ record. You've heard these songs before; they were just a little more thought-out and engaging the first (or second) time around.

Beck pulled off this shtick perfectly on Midnite Vultures, combining hijacked beats and melding them into something worth giving the originators ample reason to worry about. That album also had lyrics that combined sleaze, non-sequiturs galore, and puns for days. PDA does not; in fact, the group doesn't even try to do anything new, instead opting to rehash every rote pop routine in the book. Schwartz' lyrics go from the Timberlake-worn road of jaded lover boy ("Not Trippin") to Har Mar Superstar cheeseball seduction tactics ("Magic Window").

I had high hopes for PDA, seeing as how I usually love Imperial Teen's melodies and quirky use of double entendres. It's fitting then that Hey Willpower jack one of Imperial Teen's best melodies (2002's ON's "Baby") for a remix (?) of sorts ("Double Fantasy"). Another liberal use of melody is employed on lead single "Hundredaire," where General Public's "Tenderness" is given Scwhartz' interpretation. That these are the best two songs on the record is saying something.

Simply put: the lyrics are simply too vacuous and clichéd, the production tinny and lacking any real thump, and Scwhartz' charm? Nowhere to be found. Still, I suppose PDA would serve as a solid soundtrack for bubble baths and movie nights, especially if Mannequin 2 is playing. That Meshach Taylor is one crazy dude!

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