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.