Now is probably as good a time as any for those of us who grew up loving punk and indie rock to ask ourselves a question: Why, in music that was supposed to be a reaction to artifice, do we tolerate…the Spaz? Few folks actually act like this in real life, but if some post-collegiate 20-something yelps and hops around the stage as if he were the bastard child of Ian Curtis and Wesley Willis, well, we somehow see it as so fake it must be authentic. Take Omaha, Neb., quartet Beep Beep, whose particular spaz is named Chris Hughes. A typical song on the band’s new full-length debut, Business Casual, goes like this: Things start off with a guitar figure recalling the intros of many angular early-to-mid-’80s major-label New Wave numbers. Next, Hughes leaps in with mush-mouthed musings such as “Why should I fight this force that compels me to make your lap a snack?” Then the band puts its sting in you, as Hughes octaves up his howls and drummer Mike Sweeney does his utmost to turn the proceedings into a respectable art-funk workout. There are also breakdowns that sound like the bridges from Pete Shelley songs and guitar solos that are announced with words along the lines of “Lay down while I play for you a guitar solo.” Even when Hughes isn’t trying to be all self-referential, he is, singing about people whose “elastic bras bulge in a 12-hour life grip as the stitched metal fingers chip enamel from lingerie loops” and who generally don’t see how much they’re missing out by not wearing thrift-store clothes and driving around in a shitty van. It’s the kind of knowing hipster nonsense that makes the whole album feel as if it were between quotation marks. Sadly, it’s also completely unnecessary: The man has a genuine, if modest, gift for evocative, carbuncular lyrics—see, for example, the truly paranoid “The Threat of Nature”: “Look at the songbirds/ Now kill them/…They don’t pay their taxes.” So why’s he wasting his time knocking working stiffs, some of whom, presumably, might like to use the money they earn in their soul-destroying cubicles to purchase his record? But that’s really less of an issue than the spaz thing. And given that every song on Business Casual sounds pretty much the same, whether it’s “Giggle Giggle,” “Chewy Poison,” or “Vertical Cougar,” there’s really nothing else to talk about. Hughes is probably most convincing when he says he’s prepared to masturbate at the drop of a hat—“I just want to let you know that I’m beating off/…I’m gonna squeeze, squeeze!”—but he just can’t make that act of his seem like it’s anything more than self-satisfaction.—Andrew Beaujon