Wednesday, October 20, 2010
Reggie and the Full Effect - Songs Not to Get Married To (2005)
An excellently done, mature take on the concept of a breakup album, peppered with irreverent humor from band leader/creater James Dewees... to the detriment of the album's overall quality.
This album is a bit of a special case in that how much you like it is likely to be tied to how much you can get into the emotional themes contained within in it. The more serious tracks provide atmospheric flash visuals of the stories told in them - it feels like a drunken nightmare at times, tortured and gauzy, covered in interesting synths and crunchy guitar riffs and Dewees' pack-a-day rasp. But there are a few curveballs thrown in by Dewees to remind us that, yes, while he did write most of these songs during his divorce and that's what a lot of the album is about, this is still his tongue-in-cheek side project. Tracks like Love Reality and Deathnotronic, style parodies of British Synth-pop and KMFDM-meets-Rammstein industrial, respectively, are refreshing breathers in their silliness. Unfortunately, they're all loaded together at the end of the album, where they feel out of place and take the whole disc out of balance.
There's true heart and human appeal in many of the tracks, as well. One can sympathize to a very deep degree with this album, considerably more than others of the same vein, simply because of its maturity in handling a complete breakdown of relations between two people. The tongue-in-cheek asides work well in this context as good breathers and palate refreshers. Unfortunately, if you can't sympathize with these tracks, the emotions and messages contained in them will come off as cheesy, and the jokes as lame. Personally, while I was heavily into this album when I listened to it for this review, only two weeks later I'm in a different enough mindset to not spin this one for a long while. Pacing and consistency are two important things in a work as a whole that help separate great from classic from perfect, and this one doesn't strike the right balance to have that kind of staying power.
Pros - Straight-up good music, relatable, honest writing, humorous, mature
Cons - Major pacing issues near the end, relatability may vary quite considerably
Standout Track - Caving