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90’sdreamboy releases an EP of queer heartthrob anthems

Thursday, March 12, Bos Meadery, 6:30 p.m. Info

Photo by Eric Sørensen.

Madison trio 90’sdreamboy plays with a bit of throwback kitsch from its namesake decade, in a way that smartly enriches its tough but joyous take on punk-rock and pop. Guitarist Danielle Jordan, bassist Ash Quinn, and drummer Vivian Lin (who all share vocal duties) write openly, brashly queer songs and pair the music with graphic design worthy of The Max, repurposing the sugarcoated teen-heartthrob masculinity of ’90s pop culture to create something at once playful and defiant. The band’s debut EP, the recently released I <3 90'sdreamboy, is largely a brighter affair than last year’s tense post-punk single “Contemplation Disorder,” which earned notice in Tone Madison‘s 2019 year-end music coverage. The EP starts off with the shout-along punk of “Macaulay Sulkin’.” The song captures both the anticipation and fear of pursuing a new crush, all with a charmingly low-budget edge: “I wanna make you pancakes / I wanna take you on a date / Take you out to Willalby’s and let you get the check.”

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Two of these songs draw their titles and lyrical themes from ’90s movies that center around lesbian romances. On “But I’m A Cheerleader,” Jordan’s brightly fuzzed-out guitar and Lin’s tension-building fills power a chorus that celebrates the protagonists’ decision to ultimately accept their sexuality. And by calling back to a satire about conversion therapy—released at a time when fewer people seemed to understand just how sinister conversion therapy is—the band reminds us that it’s still a problem around the world today. On the more ominous and grimy “Bound,” Quinn and Jordan duet as Violet and Corky, protagonists of the Wachowskis’ 1996 heist thriller, trading off brief but obviously charged lines like “I need your help / I’ll fix your pipes” and “I been to prison / That’s hot / I got tattoos / My god.” 

The verses of “Come 2 Me” show what 90’sdreamboy can do with more quiet and restrained passages, which lead into outbursts of raw yearning. This track puts it all out in the open, pairing the tense clean guitars of the verses with full-on achingly horny lines like “I wanna take you home and fuck you like a fucking queen.” As straightforward as it is on the surface, the song also captures the dark and tormented side of desire, just as much as “But I’m A Cheerleader” captures warmth and release. Across I <3 90'sdreamboy, the band incorporates a variety of ideas from punk, pop, and throwback indie-rock, never getting pigeonholed into one approach. It’s both refreshing and immediately familiar, which might be why 90’sdreamboy is such a fun live band. The actual release show for the EP was on February 29 at Mickey’s, but apparently the place was so packed that night that people were getting turned away. Luckily, 90’sdreamboy and queer-punk do Gender Confetti will play this Thursday at Bos Meadery to open up a tour-kickoff show for fellow Madisonians Kat And The Hurricane, who recently released a new EP, Libra.

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