One of the appeals of garage rock in general is the ability to transcend the performer’s actual ability. Someone forgot to let Brooklyn’s Obits of that requirement as Bed & Bugs showcases tons of vintage guitar interplay that goes beyond most basement dweller’s technical ability.
Of course, when you’re in your mid-50’s like frontman Rick Froberg, you can’t actually limit your own abilities after a while, particularly when the Drive Like Jehu/Hot Snakes member delivers the Obits third l.p. with such underhanded authority that you don’t even notice the precision until you focus on what’s taking place underneath that wonderful racket.
That’s key with a genre that calls for more attitude than actual prowess and Bed & Bugs abounds in it. Opener “Taste The Diff” starts with Froberg’s hearty laugh while “Spun Out”-the record’s highwater mark-features him sounding disgusted after hitting a bum note on the first chorus. Smartly, he leaves it in, adding to the feeling of spontaneity and accuracy of intent.
Recorded in an apartment, Bed & Bugs is a welcomed stand against 21st Century perfection and hard-drive edits. While Froberg is clearly intending to channel from the source, novice rock historians will find comparisons to White Stripes and The Strokes within easy reach, even though Rick was already well underway when both of those acts were still watching Saturday morning cartoons.
The blast begins to peter out by the second-half, including a misguided acoustic and organ saturated “Machines” which sticks out like a sore thumb compared to the rest of the rave ups present.
Aside from this minor quibble, Bed & Bugs still ranks high for its attempts to knock some sense into today’s uncalloused hands though sheer execution. It provides somewhat of a progression from the band’s previous efforts while barely straying from American garage rocks already healthy past. And while this may seem a revelation to some younger listeners, Froberg is old enough to know exactly what he is doing and why such documents like Bed & Bugs are still important, regardless of when they’re released.