an indulgent pop excursion

Good God's Urge (Warner Bros.)
Porno for Pyros

By Allen Howie

Subtitle this one, "Perry Goes Pop." Farrell and company dip into the same sonic trick bag that fueled the Beatles' more adventurous outings, and produce a trippy, likable excursion of their own.

What complicates an experiment like this one is that such sonic noodlings, while interesting, aren't often much fun to listen to. Porno for Pyros sidesteps the problem by keeping both their sense of humor and melody intact. From the bubblegum snap of "100 Ways" to the loopy ebb and flow of "Tahitian Moon," Farrell and the band (Peter Distefano, Stephen Perkins, Mike Watt and Thomas Johnson) keep things moving briskly, and the effects used to flesh out the songs, while seemingly the result of random selection, actually mesh perfectly with their surroundings.

The band gets extra credit for sheer diversity. "Kimberly Austin," for instance, is a sweet, midtempo acoustic number with barely a trace of irony, while "Thick of It All" is a hazy, vampiric sleepwalk whose accusations are softened until they lose most of their sting.

And the title track, with Watt's rolling bass line bubbling gently beneath its buoyant melody, is a near-perfect pop song, right down to the crunchy, Who-ish second half. If this thing ever gets loose on the radio, it's likely to put Porno for Pyro side by side with the likes of Celine Dion and "Macarena." How's that for weird?