Too Much Joy are a surpassingly bratty foursome from Scarsdale, New York, who traffic primarily in power-pop jokes and a peculiarly lyrical snottiness. Their latest record, Son of Sam I Am, was recently picked up by mini-major Giant, and though it’s been out more than a year it’s only now getting all sorts of notice. It’s basically deserved: there’s a terrific, transforming remake of L.L. Cool J’s “That’s a Lie,” the band’s own “Clowns” is a tour de force, “If I Was a Mekon” (“I’d drink pints of beer / And talk about Adorno”) and “1964” (“I wasn’t alive”) work work work, and almost everything else has hooks and more hooks. The only thing that troubles is that snottiness, which occasionally backfires. “Making Fun of Bums” is a stupid idea for a song; and then there’s “Hugo,” a pretty complex tune that as I read it is about mocking former Gang of Four drummer Hugo Burnham as being “pure and good,” the joke being apparently that he hasn’t sold out to do commercials and as a consequence has sunk into obscurity. But Burnham is in fact an A and R man at Island, and Gang of Four is re-forming–does this prove the band’s point or refute it? I don’t know, but I do know that making fun of people for not selling out is an acquired talent. It helps to have grown up in Scarsdale. Sunday, 7:30 PM, Cabaret Metro, 3730 N. Clark; 549-0203.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Eric T. Michelson.