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Sweet Baby was the first East Bay pop-punk band to make it big—and then die a sudden death. In 1988, when now-legendary bands such as Crimpshrine, Operation Ivy, and Green Day were turning out their first singles, Sweet Baby was on the move. It released an album on the Slash Ruby label. Despite raves from Sassy and Billboard, the record bombed. Shortly thereafter, the band broke up. The world wasn’t ready for Sweet Baby, nor for East Bay punk. But times have changed. Lookout! has reissued the long out-of-print It’s a Girl!, which kicks off with a simple, high-charged number called “Baby, baby, baby, baby, baby, baby, baby (I Love You).” The title recapitulates most of the song’s lyrics and foreshadows the rest of the record. The 13 songs are sweet but punchy, and short—the longest one just tops two minutes. And all of them are about girls. Girl! covers every emotional stage of a relationship, from on-top-of-the-world happy, in “Two Tons of Dynamite,” to lower-than-a-snake’s-belly sad in “Telephone Booth,” in which Dallas Denery laments being dumped via a call from a phone booth. What makes this record rise above the sea of bland pop-punk are the “Wow!”s, “bop-bop-bop”s, and “one-two-three-four!”s that explode like firecrackers midsong. Denery sings about his baby with such gusto that you wanna meet the girl who lit the fire in his pants. Girl! is a bunch of crazy pop songs by kids who grew up in a punk scene: pop-punk in its truest form.

—Mark Murrmann