Fergus & Geronimo, Unlearn

Marc Hogan

By Marc Hogan

Lead News Writer
on 01.14.11 in Reviews

Legend has it quintessential punk-rock prototypes the Troggs took their name from an unkempt tribe of British kids who stripped off their clothes and lived in caves. That idea would probably suit Fergus & Geronimo just fine. The Brooklyn-via-Texas duo's debut is a painstakingly sloppy, hilariously deadpan exercise in juvenile regression from wiseacres who love their Motown as much as their Mothers of Invention.

A painstakingly sloppy, hilariously deadpan exercise in juvenile regression

Unlearn's schizophrenic adventures in doo-wop, jangly British Invasion pop and '90s-style indie rock cohere thanks to an overall ramshackle looseness. But don't mistake this record for lo-fi: Significantly polished from the band's early singles, the songs here never muffle their attacks on phonies of all stripes. Successfully skewered targets include loveless yuppies, sanctimonious oldsters and, yes, trend-spotting music journalists.

The Shangri-Las-inspired title track best sums up this group's m.o.: "You can unlearn what you know/ You can escape all the lies." And recurring, cinematic sing-song fragment "Could You Deliver" bears bad news for Mom and Dad: "Tell them I ran away to join some damn punk rock band." But it's on "Powerful Lovin'," a soulful breakup belter recalling Captain Beefheart circa Safe as Milk, where Fergus & Geronimo really get back to where the wild things are.