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Thursday, January 29, 2015 |  Madison, WI: 32.0° F  Overcast
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Screamin' Cyn Cyn and the Pons
Screamin' Target Heart Rate (Crustacean)

Theatrical bands that rule the stage live often have difficulty translating well on recordings. But local art-punk stars Screamin' Cyn Cyn and the Pons don't have that problem. That's largely thanks to the supernatural snottiness of male singer/keyboardist Shane O'Neill. Whether he's risking laryngeal polyps on "Peas & Carrots," the vein-popping celebration of finding big fun downtown, or more or less sticking to the melody as he describes the dissolute pleasures of rolling and tumbling through another alcohol-soaked night with his "Black Out Boyfriend," he swallows the mike with gusto. His best 86 seconds come on the album's standout track, "Pedro's," a to-the-point, New Wave-influenced savaging of the whole notion of having a "girl's night out" at Madison's longest-lived margarita mill. But O'Neill is a revelation throughout the proceedings.

His singing partner, guitarist Cynthia Burnson, doesn't have the same charisma, but her timing's good, and when the musical mayhem requires a reinforcing scream, she's always good to go. Most of Screamin' Target Heart Rate's 20 tracks clock in at under three minutes; as a result, few of the jokes wear thin. That's a good thing. On the downside, it means really stellar bird-flippers like "Pedro's" are over in a flash.

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