Sweet Baby

It's a Girl!

Sweet Baby - It's a Girl! ©1989 Lookout
1. Baby Baby Baby Baby Baby Baby Baby (I Love You)
2. Year After Year
3. She's From Salinas
4. There's This Girl
5. Resuscitation
6. Gotta Get A Girl
7. Two Tons Of Dynamite
8. Pathetic
9. This Talk About The Girl
10. Prove My Love
11. Telephone Booth
12. Daddy Cool
13. The Way She Gets Around

Hailing from Berkley, California and sporting a positively wuss-tacular name, Sweet Baby were one of the original proponents of the hyper-giddy East Bay pop punk which would become the bread-and-butter sound of Lookout! Records throughout the nineties. Although It's A Girl!, their lonely full-length album, was originally released in 1989 on an obscure subsidiary of Slash/Warner Brothers (thus predating Green Day's tying of pop punk to major labels by a few years), it floundered in near-total obscurity until finding its proper home (and proper release) at Lookout! Records. Now it only flounders in general obscurity! Yay!

So before going into this review, I should probably put it out there that as hard as I've tried, I can't help but find the majority of nineties pop punk to be amongst the most boring of the prominent subgenres of punk. Although the music itself is pretty inoffensive (although in the case of The Queers, lyrically moronic and often quite sexist), it's the fixation on Ramones worship, conventional high school heterosexuality, and a seeming unwillingness to ever try and write a unique melody (even within a stripped-down rock context) that causes me look upon most this stuff in the most positive light as punk rock elevator music. At its worst, listening to this sort of music can feel like getting drilled in the ear with one of those long unicorn-horn lollipops.

As such, it feels like an even greater breath of fresh air when a band comes along that actually manages to pull off that sugary glee-punk vibe. I'm happy to say that such is the case with Sweet Baby. Packing thirteen tunes into less than twenty-six minutes, It's A Girl! is chock full of exuberant playing and big, happy pop hooks which recall early Beatles and fifties rock and roll as much as they do The Ramones and The Buzzcocks. However, unlike the many bands that would follow in Sweet Baby's footsteps well into the 90s and beyond, the music on It's A Girl! possess a certain sense of excitement and novelty which can only come from a group playing at a time before their music felt (and indeed became) rote and standardized. Does Sweet Baby play hero worship music? Sure they do: They wear their influences clearly on their sleeve. Yet they do so with such wide-eyed enthusiasm, banging out their tunes with such joyful abandon, that it's hard to hate this music without feeling like some sort of scrooge yourself. As song titles like "Baby Baby Baby Baby Baby Baby Baby (I love you)", "There's This Girl", and "Gotta Get A Girl" suggest, It's A Girl! probably won't change your life, especially in the likely instance that you've heard any one of the bands that has obviously influenced Sweet Baby first. However, for cute, happy, utterly unadorned pop rock, It's A Girl! is a remarkably solid release, and serves as a definite highlight in a genre as widely interminable as pop punk is. If you'd like to own even just one pop punk album, consider making this one it.

Review by Hunter Brawer

Review date: 12/2009

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