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Preview: PWR BTTM's "Pageant"


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PWR BTTM is ready for its fans to feel. Really feel. Whether that’s intense happiness or sadness, PWR BTTM’s sophomore album "Pageant," due Friday, promises to be the rallying anthem for anyone who has ever felt “other.”

Band members Liv Bruce and Ben Hopkins come off of 2015’s self-described queer punk album "Ugly Cherries," a rollicking exploration of Bruce and Hopkin’s youth and queerness. The bald earnestness of "Ugly Cherries" carries over into the three singles PWR BTTM has released in anticipation of "Pageant." 

Two years older and bolder, PWR BTTM has grown even more assertive. “Answer my text, you dick!” belts Bruce on the chorus of “Answer My Text.” But, the insecure vulnerability that grounds PWR BTTM’s noisy guitars is still there: “My teenage angst will be with me well into my thirties,” sings Bruce.

The power chords of “Answer My Text” soften for “LOL,” the third single off of "Pageant." “I know that I am naïve,” sings Hopkins. “When you are queer, you are always 19.” In a world that seems hell-bent on smothering the gleefulness of “Answer My Text,” “LOL” shows the struggle behind maintaining that joy.

Single “Big Beautiful Day” relishes the unabashed expression of Bruce and Hopkin’s gender identities. “There are men in every town who live to bring you down, make themselves feel bigger making you feel small,” Hopkins sings. “My advice is to look incredible.”

The lyrics feel painfully rooted in the personal experiences of Bruce and Hopkins. But the charging guitar chords and glitter-slathered music video point to two young people who are confident using their music as a salve for theirs and others' pain. “Jesus Christ, let’s help them,” screams Hopkins on “Big Beautiful Day.” Even the nameless “them” can’t escape the salvation of PWR BTTM’s joy.

“I didn’t know I could fight back,” sang PWR BTTM on "Ugly Cherries." This time around, PWR BTTM has checked that uncertainty at the door. Expect the rawness of "Ugly Cherries" to reappear in slicker, more polished hooks and deliciously biting lyrics on "Pageant." That, and a whole lot of glitter.

@emeckelbarger

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