Back with a Vengeance
The title of the Muffs’ first album in a decade, Whoop Dee Doo, implies a certain kind of carefree, dismissive, easygoing, throw-your-hands-up attitude, maybe with a hint of sarcasm and derision. And that’s exactly what the album provides. This is the band’s first release since 2004’s Really Really Happy, and despite the time that has passed since then, the Muffs still sound like they’re back in the ‘90s or early 2000s, jamming youthfully away in a garage with their amps turned up loud.
Sounding so young and energetic might not be what one would expect after such a hiatus, especially considering that frontwoman Kim Shattuck (formerly of The Pandoras, The Beards, and very briefly last year, The Pixies) is in her fifties. But Shattuck and her bandmates Ronnie Barnett and Roy McDonald don’t take it easy on Whoop Dee Doo, by any means- they’re just as frenetic and animated as they were a decade ago, continuing right where they left off. They jump right back in with the opener “Weird Boy Next Door,” which has a familiar raw feeling: Shattuck’s raspy, scratchy vocals, and unpolished guitar riffs pulsing with the relentless energy of a teenager. Shattuck’s rough screams (or “whoops” perhaps), worthy of any big-haired, leather-clad rock star, punctuate this and other tracks.
This song, like the whole album, is simple in its construction: it’s uncomplicated pop-punk, combining pleasing melodies in the traditional verse-chorus-verse-chorus-bridge-chorus structure. “Paint by Numbers” has strong power chords and vibrant riffs reminiscent of ‘90s punk rock, churning exuberantly along with Shattuck’s straightforward, sometimes elementary lyrics about adolescent love: “When you walk by me, / I wish you would talk to me,” she sings. “Like You Don’t See Me” continues this same youthful vibe, as does the slightly raunchier “Take a Take a Me,” where Shattuck spits, “I’m gonna punch her, / I’m gonna scream and shout.”
“Up and Down Around” and “Cheezy” are the most interesting songs on the album. The former begins with percussion in a swaying beat, almost a sort of punk waltz, with distorted guitars and vocals that cover its melodic, old pop elements with a veneer of grit and a rocking guitar solo in the bridge. “Cheezy” waxes nostalgic for the ‘90s with a vibrant harmonica melody and its simple, poppy guitars.
Though Whoop Dee Doo might be a fun, upbeat throwback to the pop-punk of a decade ago, it suffers from the same weaknesses that all those ‘90s and 2000s albums had; the same musical and lyrical tropes are repeated and rehashed again and again on every track, and they quickly get old. “I Get It” and “Lay Down (It’s So Much Better),” which come later in the album, are unremarkable, and by the closer, “Forever,” the vocal tics and juvenile lyrics become grating (“looking at you, / thinking that we’re gonna be forever”). The Muffs haven’t lost any of their verve or spunk over the past ten years, but they haven’t necessarily developed or offered anything really new either.