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Don't think about this record's place in rock historical memory. It has none
To the rockcrit intelligentsia, bubblegum bands like the Cowsills didn't exist,
or didn't deserve to. (See the editors' Bubblegum Music is the Naked Truth for
the only exception to this regrettable gap in cultural history.) That's the only
way a record this great could have been ignored. It's beautifully crafted, sung
and played pop freighted with high concept and screwy as hell. Indeed, hell
and God's wrath—hell, the universe's wrath—toward a fallen humanity is
one of its main concerns.
The bubblegum background helps make this record perfect—even a song as purely insane as "The Prophecy of Daniel and John the Divine" (which
declares over and over that "six is the number / of a maaaan!" and with a middle-eight in which an ambisexual voice intones eerily that "finally one day she was cast back into the sea from where she came so that she would never torment ... man ... AGAIN!") is so wonderfully wonderful sounding that it might take a few listens for the record's dark undercurrents to stain the lovely sunshine of its singing and playing.
Every song, from the campfire-singalong pep of "IIxII" (in which the
singer is prepared to joyfully take on the burden of a modern-day ark—which
means, remember, that the vast majority of life on Earth gets destroyed) to
the gorgeous hippie harmonizing of "Don't Look Back" (in which we are advised to "please do something as you perish") is great. It's a bottomless
pleasure to sink into this record anytime and five times a day, with new details
ever coming to the fore. For example, the bassist has listened carefully to a lot
of Paul McCartney and seems determined to kick his thick, supple, super-
imaginative bass-playing ass. A perfect record, and almost perfectly lost.