Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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The Dead Milkmen

  • Big Lizard in My Backyard [Fever, 1985] A-
  • Eat Your Paisley [Restless, 1986] B-
  • Bucky Fellini [Enigma, 1987] B+
  • Beelzebubba [Enigma, 1988] B+

Consumer Guide Reviews:

Big Lizard in My Backyard [Fever, 1985]
Their jokes can be obvious ("Tiny Town") or tasteless ("Takin' Retards to the Zoo") or backbitingly sophomoric ("Bitchin' Camaro") as well as wildly unexpected--up with swordfish, down with sole, fuck Charles Nelson Reilly. Either way, they're the young snots of the year hands down, and either way they'll make you laugh. Also, when you don't feel like listening to the words, their smart fringe hardcore will keep those nineteen tracks coming. A-

Eat Your Paisley [Restless, 1986]
I was delighted that these hostile but not asocial fellows hadn't taken to agonizing over their girlfriends, assuming they have any--they were playing the songs for laffs just like on the debut. Then I noticed that except for "Beach Party Vietnam" I wasn't laffing (or even chuckling), only smiling encouragingly now and then. Between the right attitude and the right stuff falls the lead balloon. B-

Bucky Fellini [Enigma, 1987]
Just like Howard Stern says, it's tough being funny every time out, but at least they're in there pitching, hurling sophomoric knuckleballs at every freshman in sight. Though they've picked up some sarcasm at the feet of Camper Van, pop gothic remains their thing, from the '60s to Graceland to exploitation flicks to Anglodisco "art fags," an epithet I'm sure Mark Knopfler will find hilarious. B+

Beelzebubba [Enigma, 1988]
For a while there I thought they'd scored a comedy album worthy of their IQs--its forward motion makes them sound like kids again. But they're such shallow little doofuses that the jokes only stick when they're aimed at the right targets, always a subjective call. My special favorites blast punk rock and PBS--in a clever, whiney little way. B+