Andrew W.K.

For those of us whose tastes in culture-watching run to the absurd, there was a certain giddy joy that came from walking through the local record store and seeing the cover art of Andrew Wilkes-Krier's I Get Wet reproduced poster-size on the walls...and then seeing the album on the racks, its selfsame cover opaqued with black plastic. Even the predictable pack of soccer parents who raised a fuss over Andrew W.K.'s ensanguined face didn't seem to know exactly why they were offended (but, of course, since when did the bluenoses and Tipper Gores of the world need a firmly defined reason to get their support hose all a-bunged?). That bloody nose might betoken a cocaine overdose or, um, glamorize violence. Or something. Anyway, I don't want my daughter exposed to all that, uh, that stuff.

Well, of course you don't, pop. That's why she's in her room with her boyfriend while you're at work, sneaking joints and listening to a guy who's occasionally averred that the W.K. stands for Women Kum, with the volume at 11. Andrew W.K. is what you'd get if you gave a half-dozen high school motorheads an electric guitar and a bottle of Jack Daniel's apiece and left them alone for an hour. Any album on which the word "party" appears only as a verb isn't making any highbrow claims. Even so, Andrew W.K.'s synth-and-monster-chord formula has been warmly and widely embraced. He's wowed them in England (but then, these are the same people who rocked out to Robbie Williams last year, so take that for what it's worth), and his live shows frequently erupt into mass hysteria. Famously, W.K. was hospitalized after his London debut when one particularly overzealous admirer head-butted him as he crowd-surfed--partying a wee bit too vigorously, one might assume.

For all the critical kudos--from NME and Kerrang!, to name but two sources that are generally more judicious--Andrew W.K.'s slope-browed, beef-witted, water-headed, unapologetically dumb but otherwise harmless material is exactly the kind of act that doesn't enjoy a hearty shelf life, historically speaking. Whether it's plain-stupid or postmodern, ironic-stupid (which is how people who've been to college describe a stupid thing they're embarrassed to like), he's clearly striking a chord. But it's anyone's guess as to how this Dio-meets-Flock of Seagulls sound is going to play in a year's time. Then again, the old sex/drugs/rock and roll triumvirate being what it is, perhaps Andrew W.K.'s not in it for the long haul. After all, a guy who urges us to "Party Til You Puke" does have a time-sensitive goal in mind. And so does that pimply guy in your daughter's room, come to think of it.

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Eric Waggoner