The Makeup Monsters are one of a handful of barely-legal NW duos whose youngness seems to be just as attention-grabbing as their undeniably brilliant music (the notoriously spastic Herr Jazz are another example). With popular culture more youth-obsessed than ever, promising talents like TMM's Shayne Weeks and Isaac Solverson seem poised for great things - provided they aren't squashed by the weight of peoples' Great Expectations.
If the Makeup Monsters haven't conquered the world yet, it's not for lack of trying. They were finalists in 2009's Sound Off! Competition - the annual large-scale Battle of the Bands organized by Seattle's Experience Music Project. Some are still scratching their heads over that sonic scuffle's ultimate outcome; Weeks and Solverson were overlooked in favor of the hip-hop collective Dyno Jamz, despite having material as well-wrought and habit-forming as "Rude Romantique" (from their '09 LP Clint Queen Original Dream). That track's combination of lurching, ska-fried rhythmic leanings, caffeinated tempo changes, Julian Casablancas-indebted vocal delivery and killer lyrical barbs ("You suck dick while I'm sick in bed") remains virtually impossible to resist.
But youth is sometimes seen as a disadvantage. As one of a wealth of bands with a deceptively savvy, nostalgia-tinged aesthetic, The Makeup Monsters' MySpace page is littered with the blurry traces of ‘90s ephemera (goofy proto-CG pixel art, freeze-frames from well-worn VHS cassettes). An inattentive critic might scoff at their visual dimension, lumping them in with the unfairly-maligned young bucks of the "chillwave" genre. But as with millennial contemporaries like Alan "Neon Indian" Palomo (21), Weeks and Solverson (18) aren't merely backward-gazing, development-arrested spazzes. Their winking reverence for obsolete culture (The Volcano's Chuck Dula once made a note of Weeks' Magic Johnson tee*) is more subversive than might first appear - not purely ironic, but not lame-brained either, sort of like the biting lyrics (see above) that are sometimes sneaked into their sweetly charming ditties.
Few doubt the Makeup Monsters' prowess at this point, and they show no signs of slowing down. Albert Einstein once bemoaned that "the most aggravating thing about the younger generation is that I no longer belong to it." Chill out, gramps, there's room for everyone at the Makeup Monsters' party! It's an impressive (but increasingly frequent) feat when a young band makes music that speaks across generational lines, especially with such panache and a knack for off-kilter - yet simultaneously wildly accessible - songwriting.
*Incidentally, there's a similarly talented fresh-faced Portland duo called Magic Johnson. Look into ‘em.
with Takhoma, Motorbikes, Trevor Dickson
Wednesday, Sept., 1, 8 p.m., all ages, $5
1934 Pacific Ave., Tacoma
with Red Hex, Si Si Si and Colbalt Crane
Thursday, Sept. 2, 8 p.m., all ages
The Den, 1934 Pacific Ave., Tacoma