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Fergus and Geronimo: Unlearn (Hardly Art)

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The history of purposefully weird rock bands is scattered, at best. You can reference Frank Zappa and his ilk for the classics, and Ween in the indie-rock era, but the in-between includes obscure cult bands at best, and the forgotten and the failures at worst.

Denton, Texas, duo Fergus and Geronimo (Jason Kelly and Andrew Savage) has a debut album that is a messy leap from style to style—and uncompromisingly weird at every turn. The band swings from sweet doo-wop to spacey psychedelia, sometimes within a song, and crams in a surprising amount of pop hooks.

Unlearn might hit cult status. It might mark the start of a long career for Fergus and Geronimo. But it won't be forgotten.

"Unlearn"—a paean to rejecting dogma and thinking for oneself—sounds like Motown channeled through the atmospherics of Animal Collective. The band melds garage and doo-wop on "Baby Don't You Cry."

"Girls With English Accents" is a skewed take on the British Invasion; "Where the Walls Are Made of Grass" builds around quick guitar strums and a rhythmic chant; "World Never Stops" is brimming with new-wave energy; and "Wanna Know What I Would Do?" bounces like a lo-fi Talking Heads.

Kelly and Savage are clearly in control of the varied styles and shifts on Unlearn, which presents 11 songs in a short half-hour. The record may have its roots in experimentation and a restlessly creative commitment to recombining different sounds, but as a completed project, Unlearn makes an impressive whole.

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