By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Alice Laussade
By Scott Reitz
The President of the United States of Love
When the Beatles said, "All you need is love," they obviously hadn't seen the dark side of that emotion--the side that can plant you on your couch in a bathrobe for weeks at a time, wondering what went wrong. The side that can leave you powerless to do anything but stare blankly at a television set for hours, pondering ways to win her back. Love may make the world go round, but it has also filled more than a few prescriptions for Prozac.
Dr. Frank (Portman), the lovesick mastermind behind the Mr. T Experience, has seen the dark side. He's been on that couch staring blankly at the television before, and--try as he might--he can't shake the feeling that he'll be back there again. On 1996's Love is Dead--an album of surprising optimism, despite the title--Frank moans, "If my heart's gonna get broken anyway, I'd rather have it get broken by you."
Revenge Is Sweet, and So Are You, the Northern California trio's just-released eighth album, is the pessimistic counterpart to Love is Dead. Dr. Frank is more disillusioned than ever, singing, "It really doesn't matter, still there's not a sadder lie than I love you." On song after witty song, he proves that he is the punk-rock poet laureate for the broken-hearted.
As always, the bittersweet sentiments on Revenge Is Sweet are masked by the band's rollicking Ramones-esque sound. The band is also not afraid to stray into some decidedly un-punk territory, like the acoustic "I Don't Need You Now," or the pedal steel-tinged ballad "Hell of Dumb." With the addition of 19-year-old Joel Reader on bass (just before the making of Love is Dead), the band has really hit its stride, playing with a youthful abandon that belies a decade-long history. The doctor is in; go see him.
The Mr. T Experience will be playing the Argo in Denton on Wednesday, September 17. Despite that venue's much-ballyhooed recent closing, at press time all parties involved confirm that the show will occur; however, it may be wise to place a final confirmation call a day or two before showtime.