September 2003
The Inevitable Breakups Battle the Pink Robots
by David Barkhymer

I can explain the restraining order. I bought this CD, No Wonder You're so Beautiful, by the Inevitable Breakups. Some subsequent events I seriously regret but really, there was no need to get the police involved. At least no animals were harmed in the making of this article.

The aforementioned CD kicks off with a stomping rocker, "Justine," the kind of song that sounds like buttercream cranked up in your car blasting down the highway. I love how the lead singer, guitarist, and songwriter for the Breakups, Daniel Stampfel, uses personification when describing how Los Angeles stole his little rock and roll queen: "You have the stars / sandy beaches and cool cars / why must you have her too?" There's just not enough anthropomorphism in the record bins these days.

The Breakups regularly make the crowd at New York's Saturday-night britpop temple, Tiswas, slack jawed and awed. Well, especially the girls who are boys who like boys to be girls who do boys like they're girls who do girls like they're boys. Eric Dufresne, the former Splytz bassist, has that rock-star look that makes teeny boppers buy band posters and Teen Beat. I guess for non-marketing purposes it's an added bonus that he can play the bass with a delightful bubbly thumpy precision.

Stampfel is the reincarnation of Buddy Holly and wields his Rickenbacker guitar like it may fly out of control and create chugging guitar riffs all on its own. Pick any song on the album and listen; those are Stampfel's driving guitar chords. It's like punk met classic rock and no one got hurt. Dripping both sincerity and irony, Stampfel is not afraid to remind you of the girl that got away while wearing an "I play guitar" t-shirt onstage.

Thanks to David Cho I finally understand what lead guitarist is really supposed to do onstage. He lays down intricate melodies over what would otherwise be a relentless power pop trio. M. Daniel Peņa provides the rhythmic backbone that keeps the band rocking back and forth like the L train to Brooklyn, fast and furious but (hopefully) never careening out of control.

After the Tiswas show I was contemplating my hideously ugly but oh-so-tasty Jaegermeister and orange juice at the bar when I bumped into Stampfel. Of course I couldn't stop gushing about how transcendental the show was and how his band may be the human race's most important advancement since the completion of the sequencing of the human genome. Oh well, that's the way it goes after a few Jaegermaister and OJs.

Stampfel punched a hole in my musical-know-it-all persona. He explained the album was produced by Richard Lloyd from Television. I knew Television was a an important groundbreaking band but beyond that I was desperately trying to hide my ignorance. Since then I've had some time to look into it. Here's what you need to know about the guy who produced the Breakups' No Wonder You're So Beautiful. Don't be the guy at the bar with the ugly cocktail.

Television was an influential New York punk band in the 70s. Television is still around playing gigs. Richard Lloyd plays guitar in Television. Richard Lloyd unleashed Matthew Sweet on the world, yet we'll forgive him.

After seeing The Breakups live and putting their CD in constant rotation I still couldn't get enough. It started innocently enough. I, uh, found Stampfel at Pearl River Market department store near his apartment in Chinatown, before it moved to SoHo. He didn't see me as I was hiding behind a rice cooker that featured fuzzy logic. You should get one. You'll never look at making rice as a chore ever again.

My Breakups diary proves that the band picked up some new gear at Rudy's Guitars on West 48th Street at 3:35pm and arrived at Pho Viet Huong on Mulberry Street at 5:32pm for Vietnamese food. I was trying to eavesdrop on their conversation but I couldn't make out what they were saying. I ordered the pho and pork rolls. It was cheap and delicious.

The next day I followed the boys in the band around while they were buying cheap and cheesy vinyl at Generation Records on Thompson Street. Later they were checking out some of the upcoming bands at Luna Lounge.

I guess the band got freaked out by my obsessive nature and started using ugly words like "stalking" and "Get lost you freak." I don't know. I think if you really like a band there's nothing wrong with following them home and leaving long messages on their answering machines. Some musicians may disagree.

The restraining order against me really wasn't necessary. I meant no harm. I think they secretly like me and recognize me as their number-one fan. My lawyer says that we can probably settle out of court and that I shouldn't say too much more about it until the case is resolved.


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