Dreamy (1991) I bet you a million bucks that Calvin Johnson and the rest of Beat Happening (his childhood pals Heather Lewis and Bret Lunsford) will be… Beat Happening Indie Rock
Music Review

Dreamy (1991)

EW's GRADE
A

Details Lead Performance: Beat Happening; Genre: Indie Rock

I bet you a million bucks that Calvin Johnson and the rest of Beat Happening (his childhood pals Heather Lewis and Bret Lunsford) will be standing at the counter of some 7-Eleven store in Olympia, Wash., where they live, flipping furiously through Entertainment Weekly to see what it says about their fourth album, Dreamy. They'll be blocking the aisle and all the while they'll be chanting, ''Glue, glue, rubber and glue/All the bad things you say are bouncing off us and sticking to YOU.'' They'll sound just like they were singing one of their own songs (only a cappella) because that's what their songs sound like. But nyah, nyah, nyah, Calvin J., 'cos we have nothing bad to say — even if you do look like you're 12 and act like you're 5 and sing like a preschooler imitating Lurch from The Addams Family. We like songs like ''Me Untamed'' and ''Revolution Come and Gone'' and ''Left Behind'' for their tin-can beats, two-chord tunes, singsong lyrics, and of course the childishly noisy buzz-saw feedback that revs along on top of it all. Beat Happening is one of those self-generating, underground guitar bands that play a new form of eclectic sub-folk that sounds, on first listen, simultaneously amateurish and exciting. But the band isn't really as naive as the nursery rhyme bluesiness of songs like ''Hot Chocolate Boy'' and ''Red Head Walking'' — Calvin's actually in his late 20s and runs his own record label and distributorship (K Records). But, as a band whose collective head is in the fourth grade probably deserves, girls will only like the songs Heather sings — like ''Fortune Cookie Prize'' and ''Collide,'' which are dreamy, afternoon musings about boys — and boys will prefer Calvin's: ''Cry for a Shadow,'' for instance, which is about why girls shouldn't care so much about creepy boys, or ''Nancy Sin,'' which is about how attractive yet essentially icky girls are. Calvin's inner child sure is a brat, but hey — even babies get the blues. A

Originally posted Apr 12, 1991 Published in issue #61 Apr 12, 1991 Order article reprints