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“Don’t Be Scared,” the opening song on A.R.E.Weapons’ debut album, is an “I Am Woman” for useless fuckers. “People think you’re a jerk ’cause you don’t go to work/And you crash out on their couch every night,” singer Brain F. McPeck exclaims over an epic synthesized backing. “Dude! That’s cool,” he adds reassuringly. “Life was meant to be awesome.” Life clearly is awesome for A.R.E., which started as a duo around the turn of the decade, DJ-ing and playing fashion shows. The subsequent (some might say inevitable) addition of pseudo-celebrity/ pseudo-DJ Paul Sevigny to the New York outfit’s ranks as “manager/musician” surely intensified that awesomeness, because such famous people as Winona Rider and Jarvis Cocker began flocking to its shows, deals were made, and Single of the Week honors were bestowed. It’s the kind of rise that could make your average unconnected musician very, very angry. But there’s just no way around it: McPeck’s sense of humor makes dissenting class warriors look like the dead-enders they are. The chorus of “Fuck You Pay Me” would have made for a mix-tape must-have on its own, but the real fun’s in hearing McPeck dress down some dumb hipster who tries to cadge $7. “Papa needs a new everything,” he exclaims later, mentioning that he’d like a big TV, a DVD player, and a new basketball”Remember the part that went ‘Fuck you.’” Then there’s “Headbanger Face,” McPeck’s salute to the expressions people make while having sex (“Get your headbanger face on,” he demands of a woman he’s picked up in the park). And “Changes,” which details his daily drug regimen and mentions that “It’s the war that turns me on.” And “Strange Dust,” which appears to be a cautionary tale about PCP usenot! The closest McPeck gets to social responsibility is “Hey World.” “A bored kid is a dangerous kid,” he suggests, sounding as if he’s leading an ironic revival meeting, explaining drug use, teen sex, and school shootings in one go: “Janie’s pregnant/She doesn’t want to tell her parents/She’s gonna get an abortion/Her boyfriend’s parents are hippies/They said they’d take care of it/Janie’s fucking miserable/She’s 14, living in a world of shit.” Oh yeah, a note on the music: multi-instrumentalist Matt McAuley and (to whatever extent) Sevigny have created a defensible pastiche of the late-’70s/early-’80s New York death-pop duo Suicide’s classic drone. It’s OK, but McPeck’s words would work as well over a karaoke version ofwell, just about anything. Andrew Beaujon