There's something about Mary Prankster all right, something that truly stands out, and it isn't merely that the Annapolis-based punk-folk-pop-rock singer has Betty Boop's looks and Alanis Morrisette's tongue. There are plenty of cute or angry pop acts around, but what sets Prankster apart from the pack are her songs -- smart and funny, self-deprecatory and lacerating by turns.
Even though this release is less than half an hour long, it's loaded with highly original and frequently quotable songs. The album opens with the T-Rex-inspired title track before Prankster lets the ink and blood flow. She's wonderfully adept at summing up a doomed relationship in a single verse like this one: "And I had no insecurities/ So he gave me some of his/ But I didn't need his sorrows, man/ I'm Irish as it is." Prankster is no slouch, too, when it comes to lampooning cultural trends -- "Punk Rock Heaven" is a prime example -- or making larger-than-life figures even larger than usual. "Mata Hari," for instance, is an ode to a "Cut-throat, cut-rate Jezebel/ No one's drone, nobody's fool/ Grows her own and owns her cool." On "New Tricks" and other laments, Prankster sounds as if she can't help but find humor in all the troubles and disappointments she's seen. Perhaps more than anything else, that's why she's is so likable, even when she's using a few choice expletives to make her point.
Appearing Wednesday at the 9:30 club with Laughing Colors, Smartbomb and Colouring Lesson.
To hear a free Sound Bite from Mary Prankster, call Post-Haste at 202/334-9000 and press 8122. (Prince William residents, call 690-4110.)