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Monday, Jan. 5, 2009

The Residents

The Bunny Boy (Santa Dog)

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Although the wacky, anonymous, eyeball-mask-wearing members of The Residents make a point of labeling it a collection of "pop songs," The Bunny Boy isn't simply a pop album. It's also a cryptic Internet series that "inspired" the album, a live performance piece, a yet unavailable companion album-all inspired by a mysterious package supposedly sent to The Residents' compound. And, of course, it's all part of the concept/performance.

So should these "pop songs" even be held against the standards of "normal" popular music? Well, probably none of The Residents' albums should be, but here they've invited the comparisons. So here's one: Remember Devo's cover of "Head Like a Hole"? It's kind of like a whole album of that. It's all a bit too dark for its own good. But when that darkness is pushed even further, over the top, it comes back around to being sort of light and entertaining. At its poppiest it succeeds (the rather Devo "Rabbit Habit"); likewise at its most artsy (the chilling yet hilarious "The Black Behind").

Pop or art, Bunny Boy isn't The Residents' masterpiece, but their willingness to take risks after 40 years makes it still affecting.


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