Grow Up, the first full-length from the Queers, was uneven and sometimes stilted by weak production and gratingly shallow lyrics. Like every Queers album, it had a bit of a split personality due to the division between lighter, happier songs and angry rants against everything that pisses Joe Queer off. Unlike the later Queers releases, however, it didn't have as much of the sense of humour and melodic hooks to keep the angry songs fun and entertaining in spite of their anger. This left them dull instrumentally and simply mean-spirited or irritatingly obnoxious lyrically. I would describe Grow Up as immature, vulgar, and limited in its subject matter, but the same can be said for Love Songs for the Retarded, so why is the latter so much better? I think the difference between the two is that it elevates the Queers' defiant immaturity from annoying to endearing with more clever lyrics and catchier melodies.
Some of the only songs I liked on Grow Up (along with "Goodbye California") were the ones that showed the gentler, more romantic side of the Queers ("I Met Her at the Rat," "Burger King Queen," and "Love, Love, Love"), which they display again in "Debra Jean" (which is so good-natured and innocent in its lyrics and old-school in its vocal harmonies that it almost sounds like something from the `50s era of shamelessly syrupy love ballads) and "Daydreaming."
Meanwhile, instead of falling into the category of either snotty punk or sunny pop, songs like "Fuck the World" (which impressively integrates new lyrics into the melody of Screeching Weasel's "Amy Saw Me Looking at Her Boobs"), the wonderfully detailed sing-along "Ursula Finally Has Tits," "I Won't Be," and "Hi Mom, It's Me!" (which includes some my favourite lyrics ever in "Hi mom, it's me, the fuckin' little shit, the ugly little monkey who used to suck your tit") seamlessly blend both styles with lyrics that combine "aw shucks" sweetness with cheerful rudeness.
"You're Tripping," "I Hate Everything," "I Can't Stand You," "Feeling So Groovy," "Teenage Bonehead" and "Granola Head" are in the great Queers tradition of rants that passionately go off on the pet peeves that Joe Queer loves to diss (hippies, scenesters, racists, strict parents, cheating/slutty girls, etc.), while "I Can't Stop Farting," "Noodlebrain," "Night of the Livid Queers," and "Monster Zero" are so gleefully juvenile that I can't help but be amused, rather than disgusted by their proudly crude and obscene narratives and statements.
I can understand why some people might find this album's lyrics offensive or insulting to one's intelligence due to the amount of profanity in them and their smartass kid perspective, or be bored by the lack of sophistication in the music's simplistic Ramonescore instrumentation. On the other hand, anyone who likes and can be completely satisfied with catchy three-chord punk rock and anyone who finds comfort in songs written as catharsis for the perpetually pissed off, cursing, and lovelorn teenager inside should be delighted.
The production on the album is much more raw than that of future Queers albums, with a subtle progression from that of Grow Up still audible. This remastered version of the album released this past summer sports some minor alterations in the production. Overall, the album is a little louder and faster with the instruments sounding slightly punched up (i.e. more pronounced riffs) and a few vocal tweaks (i.e. backing vocals amplified) in some spots, but I don't think the changes are very significant. Comparing the original release to the remastered version, I don't have a preference of one over the other. Those who buy the new version won't be missing much that was on the original, and those who own the old version won't miss much by sticking with it either.
To paraphrase Ben Weasel's comments about a Queers gig he once observed: "There's something beautiful about a 35-year-old man singing about how he doesn't want to wash the dishes or mow the lawn." Anyone who can listen to the Queers and think the same thing is sure to dig this fun little celebration of punk rock adolescence.