The Queers -- Love Songs for the Retarded

The Queers
Love Songs for the Retarded
Lookout! 1993
Asian Man, 2003

If you asked me about the Queers ten or fifteen years ago, I'd probably say something about how I enjoyed them live but didn't really dig their records. Back then, I thought their recordings were a bit too soft, a bit too derivative of the Ramones and, as a result of this impression, I rarely listened to their records. I suspect I may have been a bit put off by apocryphal accounts of the band's homophobia and similarly off-putting behavior. What always baffled my friends was that it made absolutely no sense for me not to love the Queers. I mean, I was constantly playing Ramones and Screeching Weasel albums, always enthusiastically seeking out the latest pop-punk releases, and routinely featuring bands like the Teen Idols and Groovie Ghoulies on my radio show.

It wasn't until quite a few years after I had left the fertile Twin Cities punk scene that, in a moment of nostalgia for that period of my youth, I picked up Love Songs for the Retarded, pressed play, and initiated a belated love affair with a band I should have fallen for long ago.

Let me put it this way: Love Songs for the Retarded is as close to a perfect pop-punk album as you are ever going to encounter. Seriously, it practically epitomizes the genre. The songs are pure bursts of three-chorded, hook-laden bubblegum pop with immensely catchy, sing-along choruses and silly, playfully childish lyrics about girls, hippies, punks, drinking, and hanging out. While not quite as adenoidal as Ben Weasel, his good friend and frequent collaborator, Joe Queer delivers his vocals with enough nasally swagger to give the songs a modicum of Weasel's gloriously snotty inflection, lending the music a pitch-perfect air of punk rock impertinence.

Lyrically, there are quite a few gems on this disk, too. Among the more amusing:
Last night I had burritos and drank a lot of beer
And now a funny smell is emanating from my rear
My girlfriend tries to hold her nose and falls into a swoon
I got a problem and I don't know what to do...
I can't stop farting
I know you think I'm just a useless, stupid punk
Because every night I come home drunk
Hi Mom, it's me, the fuckin' little shit
The ugly little monkey who used to suck your tit
Seriously, "my girlfriend tries to hold her nose and falls into a swoon?" Who the hell says swoon? Fucking hilarious. And the crassness of "[t]he ugly little monkey who used to suck your tit?" You can't get much more punk than that.

All-in-all, there isn't a single dud on Love Songs for the Retarded. Most pop-punk bands would call it a successful career if they could release a greatest hits record half as good as this disk.


Track 2. "Ursula Finally Has Tits." There's a certain moment in many a middle school boy's life that often stands out as one of the greatest memories of his young existence: that magical time, usually between fourth and sixth grade, when girls suddenly come to school with breasts that hadn't been there before. "Ursula Finally Has Tits" celebrates one such moment, when a group of punkish kids notice that the cute girl they've had their eyes on has reached that crucial stage in her development transforming her into a crush-worthy object of adolescent desire. Although neither the band's name nor the album title are the most politically correct of statements, "Ursula Finally Has Tits" actually seems to poke fun at some of the more lamentable aspects of gender relations. At one point, when the singer rejoices in Ursula's development, he explains that "now she's cool," sardonically referencing the tendency many males have to ignore women who do not meet their standards for attractiveness. Oh, and the lead guitar riff will be stuck in your head for decades.

Track 4. "Teenage Bonehead." One of the most beautiful vocal performances on the album, "Teenage Bonehead" will give you your fill of whoh-oh-oh-ohs and ooh-ahhs.

Track 5. "Fuck The World." A song I associate as much with Screeching Weasel as with the Queers, "Fuck the World" is as good as it gets. A tale of punk rock love and slackerdom whoa-oh-oh'd over one hell of a sweet guitar riff.

Track 8. "Debra Jean." If there were any justice in this world of ours, "Debra Jean" would play at every high school prom ever. Channeling the bah-bah-bah-bah-bah'ing spirit of sixties' pop radio, this song is basically a sped-up slow dance.

Track 13. "Granola-Head." This is the Queers song most likely to appear on Eric Cartman's iPod. Punk rock's sportively antagonistic hippie-bashing has found its theme song.


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