Packaged to look like one of those bizarre promotional items issued by local chambers of commerce to entice visitors to enjoy the attractions of the area, the Young Fresh Fellows
' Fabulous Sounds of the Pacific Northwest
looks like a silly, tossed-off joke. And in many ways, that's exactly what it is; the thing is, it's both really funny and startlingly well done. From the banging opener, "Rock and Roll Pest Control," to the closing piece of self-mythology, "The Young Fresh Fellows Theme," the Seattle foursome comes off like the Replacements
with the drunken angst replaced by a near-terminal case of the giggles. However, even amongst songs like "Power Mowers Theme" and "Teenage Dogs in Trouble" are sharp, punky slices of pop-geek desperation like "Think Better of Me" and the scathing "You Call That Lonely," two early indications that the smirky juvenilia that characterizes many of the Young Fresh Fellows
' albums are but one side of their collective personality. The sound is borderline awful (producer Conrad Uno
would become much more skilled with the board even as early as the follow-up, 1985's Topsy Turvy
) and the performances are at times just short of incompetent, but the songs (mostly courtesy of leader Scott McCaughey
) are a promising lot with regular flashes of incipient greatness.