Here’s a factoid that might make you rue your age: The Muffs have been around for 23 years. But on closer inspection, that figure is a bit misleading. Yeah, Kim Shattuck started The Muffs in 1991, at which point the band steadily produced five records through Really, Really Happy in 2004. And then … nothing. Shattuck refocused her knack for tuneful pop punk on a new project, The Beards, and later entertained a brief stint as bassist for the Pixies in 2013. All the while, The Muffs’ once clockwork-like mode of operation stood silently still.
A full decade might sound like a remarkable layoff on the surface, but in reality, a 10-year break wasn’t bound to throw a band like this off its game too much. Whoop Dee Doo, the band’s re-entry into the musical fold, hammers that point home convincingly. Despite the standstill, the band has long committed its gift for pleasantly juvenile pop punk to muscle memory. The record starts with a trio of songs that nail their hallmarks of crisp production, monolithic guitar chords, and Shattuck’s surly vocal bark dead to the wall. “Weird Boy Next Door” sounds both cartoonish and agitated, with Shattuck’s voice nestled snugly somewhere between Brody Dalle and Courtney Love. “Paint by Numbers” is a pop punk nugget that’s as simple as its title suggests, and “Like You Don’t See Me” drips with ’90s alt rock nostalgia.
Other tunes fall in with the band’s taste for girl group and doo-wop sounds from the ’60s. “Up and Down Around” might as well be the soundtrack to a sock hop on the wrong side of the tracks, and “I Get It” gives the sweet boy/girl twee-ness of ’60s pop rock a kick upside the head. The Muffs have always known their way around a good hook, and the band’s pop sense continues to shine on the surface, even if it’s still muddied up with punk rock grime.
Ever the comedians, The Muffs knew what message they were sending on a record called Whoop Dee Doo. The mock elation of the title knocks down the mystique a bit on their long-awaited return, but it’s likely most fans knew what to expect all along. If nothing else, Whoop Dee Doo is a statement of consistency. It might be more of the same, but if they’re not pushing their sound forward, they aren’t losing pace. That’s a nice consolation.
Essential Tracks: “Weird Boy Next Door”, “I Get It”, and “Like You Don’t See Me”