Like Brooklyn brahs-in-arms Liquor Store, this crew comes at their beachy garage rock with a deferential Dictators bent on this, Hector’s Pets’ debut LP. A surfer vibe is further cloaked under the band’s knit caps, leather coats and post-requsite beards, as if the surfboard had been waxed with White Castle sliders. Well-strung candy crunch like Station Wagon, Huns Buns and Fast As Fuck work up back-up “oo-oo” harmonies that are more polished than you’d expect, but still work like weed-servicing bike messenger buddies singing along at an after-party.
These buds have some instrumental chops to hone their backyard grill party grinds too, proved right near the top with New Job that’s tight without being showy, at all, and slips in some hungover philosophizing. “The rich get richer while the working man only gets skinny.” But mainly, word-wise, it’s all being broke, removing bras, running from boyfriends, getting to bed late, waking up drunk, don’t rinse but repeat. The general sucrose sway and the singer Wet Pet’s lower register bounce around like a scrappy follow-up to the Dirtbombs’ 2013 bubblegum revive, Ooey Gooey Chewy Ka-Blooey! Throughout, Chuck Berry riffs are chopped efficiently, handclaps show up when needed, and those quick back-up singing bits leave Pet-O-Feelia feeling like unearthed, warped, and sulfurous early ‘70s Beach Boys demos.
Don’t Wanna Live, right in the middle of the record, sort of kind of questions the libationary lifestyle before heading back into the party. The singer and his back-ups have a kind of droll, seen-it-all vocal tone which serves it well, as more faux-freak FIDLAR-y preening is not needed at this point. The lack of the overt cheek that’s been sinking this demi-genre of late is welcome. But it would behoove Hector’s Pets to concoct another way to still go off the rails a bit here and there—add some twists of unexpected instruments or odd endings or what have you. Given their party-starting live show, full of zany Hawaiian shirts and members tumbling over each other, this record should be a bit wilder than it is. Lighten Up and Teenacher get into the right gear. But it is kind of funny how Wet Pet is already saying near the end of the record (Year Of The Pets) that he doesn’t need that station wagon he benefited from earlier (Station Wagon). I suppose a little world-weariness wears well on garage rock right about now.