When Huggy Bear’s first EP came out, there was an instant buzz about the English group in the international pop underground-they were “boy/girl revolutionaries” (translation: a credible riot grrrl band with a boy singing most of the time), they covered their record packages with political manifestos that didn’t make very much sense, they refused to be interviewed or photographed, they didn’t reveal their actual identities and they were young and irrepressibly energetic. Rubbing the Impossible to Burst doesn’t exactly have any decent songs beneath the bluster, but Huggy Bear sure was promising.
Kiss Curl for the Kid’s Lib Guerrillas and Her Jazz consolidated the band’s positions with some pretty good (if hookless) songs, a couple of odd tape recordings and an awful lot of energy flying off in all directions. (The band’s side of the split LP with Bikini Kill is pretty much of a piece with these EPs.) Don’t Die is better, with the still-anonymous male vocalist screaming his throat off on “Dissthentic Penetration” and “Pansy Twist,” and a short, explosive boy/girl chant called “No Sleep.” (Released almost simultaneously, the twelve-song Taking the Rough With the Smooch collects singles two, three and four.) The double-7-inch Shimmies in Super-8, a various-artists release on Stereolab’s label, devotes a side to four tracks from an early Huggy Bear tape: one quiet song, a couple of found-sound pieces and somebody’s attempt to sing “Foolish Little Girl” into a Walkman. It’s tossed off, but tremendously affecting and unusual.
Then Huggy Bear disappeared for a year, and something happened. The dreadfully recorded Long Distance Lovers is so dull and awkwardly played that it’s hard to believe it’s the same band; a couple of horn players fail to liven things up. Main Squeeze is more of the same: muddy, unimaginative riffs that go nowhere. By its final recording and only real album, Weaponry Listens to Love, Huggy Bear is a complete disaster, a stunningly dull band grinding away behind an incomprehensible sloganeer who won’t shut up. He still sounds passionate, but what he’s saying makes no sense at all, and it’s frankly not worth the effort to try to figure out.