Oingo Boingo, Only A Lad

I conned my mother into letting me buy this cassette purely on the basis of the poorly-reproduced halftone Boy Scout on the cover. Fortunate, since she didn't see the lobster claw or actually hear the infamous intro track "Little Girls," a rather arresting satire just this side of jailbait that was banned in Canada. That should be the hint that Boingo was anything other than your typical new wave act; Danny Elfman's intricate musical sensibilities achieved their fullest throating here, rushing madly from dystopian visions ("A Perfect System") to economic critique ("Capitalism") and social anxiety ("On The Outside") with a brass section, quicksand-like shifting time signatures and irrepressible glee. Of particular note is their remarkable cover of the Kinks' "You Really Got Me" which so successfully takes the song almost 180 degrees away from its original roots it might as well be another song entirely. The second half is less accomplished, particularly the tedious "What You See" and "Controller," but then there's that venomously barbed title track of youth gone terribly wrong and my personal favourite "Nasty Habits," their taunting and ponderously inexorable ode to suburban hypocrisy. A fair bit of Boingo's next couple albums was merely trying to equal the punch of this one, and some of the time they didn't, so you're better off with the original. It's tart and twisted and not for every taste, but Mom said it was okay. (Content: adult themes, a couple mild expletives.)