The Promise Ring - Electric Pink (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

The Promise Ring

Electric Pink (2000)

Jade Tree

"They totally peaked with Nothing Feels Good."

"Very Emergency was way too poppy."

"How come the Tanner kids don't look Greek, like at all?"

Friend, do these quotes sound familiar? You're hanging out, maybe thinking about grilled cheese, when somebody drops an ignorant remark -- they hate post-`97 Promise Ring! FACT: If you replace "Very Emergency" in the middle quote above with "minorities" and switch "too poppy" to "stupid," you would have a sentence that is not only racist, but grammatically incorrect. Your friends are a hair away from causing a race riot. You have two choices: (1) Find new friends or (2) hit 'em in the face with the soothing sorta-emo indie pop-rock sounds of Electric Pink! Guaranteed to make 'em even rethink Wood/Water! Maybe!

Housed within its metallic, some might even say electric, pink cover is four songs totaling 12.5 minutes. Three of 'em bounce with Very Emergency's poppy energy, but with a tightness that the EP format specializes in. The title track opens with a simple bassline and frontman Davey von Bohlen's lispy word play. "Please don't press that we dress / high heels and loud shoes are a mess / step out with quiet feet / and now I'm pleased to meet / meeting is so hard to do when you're dead," goes one memorable verse. The song is pretty much fun from every angle -- to-the-point rock riffs, a hummer of a chorus and those previously mentioned fun rhymes ensure that much. Track 2 and Very Emergency holdover "Strictly Television" sounds like slightly more retro TPR, if only for its punkier drumming. Hooks are still big, though.

The EP shifts for "American Girl (V.01)," a reimagining of the Boys + Girls cut. Though it's faster and steadier than the original, it's still the mellowest/slowest song of the bunch, cleansing the palate before "Make Me a Mixtape." It's well-placed. So is "Make Me a Mixtape." Arguably Electric Pink's catchiest ditty, its pop-minded wistfulness is enhanced nine years after its release. The mixtape was long ago left behind by playlists and CD-Rs, but its nostalgia factor just ups the ante on this, a song about asking a loved one to make a mixtape for a road trip. Like any good driving song, it's fast-paced and catchy, with some crunchy riffs thrown in. Grown-ass man von Bohlen acknowledges that he'll never again be 22 (something this 23-year-old knows as well), but that he wouldn't mind having a mixtape with "something old and something new / something I said or that we did / that reminds me of you." Later on he gets a little more specific with requests for Hüsker Dü and "something the Cars did in 1982." He's even willing to take "Duran Duran Duran Duran" too, sung with such precious honesty. I'm thinking "Hardly Getting Over It," "Shake It Up," and "The Chauffer," but there are probably peppier numbers to commit to tape.

But hey, your stupid friends don't like catchy songs, right?