PWR BTTM, “Ugly Cherries”

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The band unpacks queerness with humor and self-care.

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Spencer Davis | July 21, 2015

PWR BTTM, "Ugly Cherries"

To live while queer is to find oneself subjected to violence—both political and physical—in every realm of life. Queer lives also encompass friendships, loves, trips to the grocery store, college graduations, and other trivial miracles whose interweaving forms the tapestry of life. That’s the message of “Ugly Cherries,” the new single from Hudson, NY’s PWR BTTM (who perform in drag): queer lives, irreducibly complex, sound like more than token political narratives. Sometimes, they even sound like catchy, riff-heavy pop-punk.

In an interview with Spin, Ben Hopkins noted that “’Ugly Cherries’ is the first song I’ve ever written about myself. It’s a confrontation: an attempt to unpack my own queerness with humor and self care. I just got so fucking tired of wishing I was different so I decided to scream, ‘She’s all right’ until I actually was.” Like “Ugly Cherries” itself, the sentiment is a revolutionary distillation of the pop-punk ethos by a musician whose queerness informs their songcraft even as it challenges and expands what a pop-punk song can look like.

“Ugly Cherries” opens with Liv Bruce’s crashing drums and fast, buzzing riffs that recall spiky fellow upstaters Palberta before settling into a slow groove more reminiscent of Jawbreaker Reunion (with whom PWR BTTM released a split earlier this year). Over this backing, Ben Hopkins confesses that, “My girl gets scared/can’t take him anywhere;” the way in which two often-segregated gender identifiers tumble together from Hopkins’ mouth as identifiers makes the singer’s lived experience as viscerally relatable as any twenty-something who faces the world with deep anxiety.

Simultaneously personal confessional and universal statement, “Ugly Cherries”—like all the best pop songs—continues to challenge how we relate to our lives over the remainder of its brief two minutes and twenty seconds. That challenge makes it all the more gratifying to know that, in the end, “My girl…he’s alright.”

“Ugly Cherries” is the lead single from PWR BTTM’s upcoming album of the same name, out September 18 via Miscreant Records and Father/Daughter Records. You can stream it below.

Ugly Cherries track list:

1. “Short-Lived Nightmare”
2. “Dairy Queen”
3. “I Wanna Boi”
4. “Ugly Cherries”
5. “Serving Goffman”
6. “Nu 1″
7. “West Texas”
8. “1994”
9. “C U Around”
10. “All The Boys”
11. “House In Virginia”

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