For years, all my Screeching Weasel collection consisted of was the classic Boogadaboogadaboogada, and I always wondered why people said all the local bands in Lancaster sounded like Screeching Weasel. With my receiving of “Wiggle”, I finally begin to understand what those individuals were talking about. This is the harder edge of the early nineties punk rock, a movement which had as its lighter front bands like Green Day and Unwritten Law. The bass lines laid down on tracks like “Crying In My Beer”, coupled with those of bands like Operation Ivy would allow for the resurgence of intricate and omnipresent bass lines throughout punk music. What is amazing about Screeching Weasel is their ability to go flip-mode on their asudience in the space of two songs. The slower tempo of “Crying In My Beer” is dropped for an incredible, hardcore-influenced pit-friendly track in “Slomotion”.
The grit that really marked Boogadaboogadaboogada is by and large gone during “Wiggle”. The guitar fuzz is still there but the first-take nature of a lot of that disc has gone to pasture, to be replaced with a polished sound. The value of “Wiggle” is that the tracks had been lengthened instead of cut off the second that the band felt that they were getting tepid. This does have some unintended consequences at points, but the band is cognizant of their sound enough to not allow their tracks to go on much beyond their breaking point. Along their way Screeching Weasel has put on “Wiggle” some punk classics; the straight-forward nature of “Automatic Rejector” mixes with the looking-back sound of tracks like “Slomotion” to make a disc that is expansive and full, even with the constraints that “punk” usually dictates.
Some of the tracks do not reach the high standard that the vast majority of “Wiggle” achieves. This is particularly evident during “Sad Little Girl”, where the band goes far beyond the repetition of the Ramones to utterly underwhelm their audience. Still, the few missteps that the band makes were present throughout their prior album, and this really shows “Growing” pains” that will manifest themselves regardless of what genre the band may be. It is truly better to try a few different things each album (as Screeching Weasel has) instead of cutting what is essentially the same album over a the course of a career. “Wiggle” is not perfect but shows the band at a critical juncture of their careers, moving towards a refined sound that far outstrips anything previously heard.
Top Tracks: It’s all In My Head, Slomotion
Screeching Weasel – Wiggle / 1992, 2005 Asian Man / 18 Tracks / http://www.screechingweasel.com / http://asianmanrecords.com / Reviewed 16 May 2005