It's hard not to laugh at the cover of the new album by Screamin' Cyn Cyn & the Pons. Two manly hands model eight gold rings on an electric-blue background. The rings spell out the creation's title, Damn, Girl, with a shiny, gaudy fake nail as the comma.
Even if you missed the letters on the rings, the nails themselves -- huge and gold with kickin' curves -- will make you utter "Damn, Girl" in awe or bewilderment.
"This is our third CD, and we've gotten simpler and simpler with each one," says Shane O'Neill, budding nail artist and frontman of the local band of theater punks, about the image. "We wanted something really iconic and simple. A man's hands with long, beautiful fingernails is emblematic of what our band is and wants to be."
In other words, the Pons are all about shock value and double takes, the kind that make you whisper to like a schoolgirl to your friends, even if your friends are a bunch of masculine metalheads or intellectual professor-types.
The album's title song takes a similar approach. The lyrics of each verse -- "Damn, girl. Damn. Damn, girl." -- are about as simple as they come. It's the way they're delivered that makes you take notice. The style is a throwback to early-'80s post-punk, when bands like the Bush Tetras delivered punky, rhythmic vocals over the top of funky, rhythmic guitars.
"Damn, Girl" starts as an observation that's almost whispered by O'Neill and guitarist Cynthia Burnson. But repeated over the next few bars, the statement grows into a shouted exclamation, the kind you might hear at both a nail salon and a playground brawl.
The band's signature minor-key arpeggio unfolds right before the chorus, inviting fans to bang their heads and shout along. There's so much comedy and energy packed into these moments that you might miss the track's other, more introspective themes about cold feet and dying alone. Accompanied by Burnson's mournful "bah-bah-dum-dum," these melodic spells seem more inspired by "Glee" than the original screamin' Cyn Cyn, Bush Tetras' Cynthia Sley.
Listen to an mp3 of "Damn, Girl" in the related files at right. More music by Screamin' Cyn Cyn & the Pons is available on their MySpace page and from Crustacean Records. Catch a live version of this song and others from Damn, Girl at the band's release party at the Frequency on Saturday, July 3.
MadTracks highlights and provides MP3s of songs performed by local musicians. All tracks here are provided with permission of the artist. If you are a musician based in the Madison metro area and are interested in sharing your work as a MadTrack, please send a message.