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The Asexuals

The Asexuals - Be What You Want

Be What You Want
First Strike - 1984

Michael Panontin
The Asexuals are part of that secret history of the 1980s, the one ignored back in the day by MTV and its legion of followers, and glossed over today on the comps and tribute nights. As was brilliantly chronicled in Paul Rachman's 2006 doc American Hardcore, a network of alienated teens staved off atrophy out in suburbia, channelling their rage into scores of hardcore punk bands from L.A. to Washington. One of those, the Asexuals, started up in 1983 in Montreal, debuting the following year with the four-song Featuring...the Asexuals EP (Og) and topping that with the brilliant 'Be What You Want', a singularly perfect blend of punk rage and pop hooks that would lead off this LP. At a time when hardcore was devolving into what could only be described as a sonic temper tantrum, that song encapsulated the positive potency of punk, written by and for youth, exhorting them with its terse chorus to be true to themselves, the rest of the world be damned.

Not surprisingly, much of Be What You Want gives itself to the sort of buzzsaw guitar and frenetic drumming first fired up several years back by the likes of Minor Threat and much of the D.C. crew. Its questionable politics aside,'Contra Rebel' sports some gritty vocals that bear the marks of SLF's Jake Burns, while the fast and furious 'Thrash Zone' makes a nice mosh-pit skankfest. Side two serves up their namesake 'Asexual' and its support of sexual abstinence, unfortunately showing that the boys had signed on to the Ian McKaye-influenced puritanical straight edge credo, proving once again that youth is indeed wasted on the young.

(Collectors note: Be What You Want was reissued the following year on the Psyche Industry label with a custom inner sleeve replacing the poster included in the first pressing.)


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