Weezer might have lamentably called it quits, but each year another self-deprecating dork-rock band steps up with a clever, catchy collection of goofy tunes. In 1999, it was Fountains of Wayne with the sublime Utopia Parkway, and now Nerf Herder fills the 2000 quota with its irresistible sophomore effort How To Meet Girls. Perhaps best known for its theme song to Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Nerf Herder proves with its new collection of tunes that it deserves to be ranked near the head of the class of witty pop outfits.
On the opening track, “Vivian,” the group pays a loving tribute to New Wave, with singer/songwriter Parry Gripp crooning We’ll rock the math club Christmas party over a keyboard-fueled backdrop that brings to mind local favorites The Anniversary. Other notable homages include the Duran Duran-style melody to “Lamer Than Lame,” the Kraftwerk feel to “She’s a Sleestak,” and the nod to pop-punk pioneers The Descendents, who also sang about being a “Pervert.” The album also contains two outright odes, one of which amusingly chastises its target (Please God/Don’t let me end up like Jonathan Richman) while the other alternately celebrates and mocks its subject, Courtney Love (You wore grungy clothes/Then doctors fixed your nose.)
When dealing with standard topics, Nerf Herder finds a way to add a unique twist. Its mushiest tune tells the tale of “Pantera Fans in Love,” and features lines such as I taught you how to draw your first pentagram. And although it might be only one of thousands of groups that have claimed I’ll do anything for you, Nerf Herder is probably the first to vow I’d get a Michael Bolton tattoo.
Packed with amazing hooks and quotable lyrics, How To Meet Girls is a reminder of how amusing pop can be, delivered with a complete lack of rock-star cockiness. It’s the type of band that could save modern-rock radio, but even if it falls short of this lofty goal, Nerf Herder has delivered another nerdish-leaning masterpiece.