November 30, 1981 12:00 PM

Suburban Lawns

If this first album had appeared in the late 70s, it would have been hailed as innovative. But at this late date in New Wave it isn’t news, simply a fine addition to a well-established genre. The Lawns are a Long Beach, Calif. five who call themselves, in the West Coast scene’s passion for put-on, Su Tissue, Frankie Ennui, Chuck Roast, Vex Billingsgate and John McBurney (where’d that odd name come from?). Like the early Talking Heads, they employ unusual and contrasting cadences and a tight, angular sound. One can hear traces of the B-52s and Devo, and two cuts—Protection and Not Allowed—strongly conjure up the dark folk-rock of early Velvet Underground. Some of the band’s virtues seem familiar: a pop jubilance shared with the Go-Gos, Oingo Boingo’s nervous precision and a bit of X’s thick rocking guitar textures. If the Lawns hadn’t synthesized all these influences, adding their instrumental skills and weird, jumpy personality, they would be hardly worth mentioning—a form of musical crabgrass. But cuts such as Janitor, Flying Saucer Safari and Computer Date show that this debut is better late than never.

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