What the Hell is Contempt? kicks off the album with a bang, as driving verses and an epic half-time chorus set the stage, assisted by an assortment of smooth crooning and metalcore screams. Keeping the epic and somewhat atmospheric elements of the previous track, the more emotional Get Well Soon is a loud dip into vulnerability. This was the single that propelled the album, and the haunting synth and pounding rhythms keep it fresh and listenable today - quite a feat.
What the Hell is a Stipulation? is a groovy return to the crunch of the opener, a third-person rant about the woes of the friend zone. This turns into the opening strains of Caving - a beautiful layered mix of strings and delayed piano, soon punctuated by heavy chords and Dewees' signature raspy singing. This is the first song on the album that really feels like it addresses the subject matter at hand head-on, and is easy to sympathize with. It outmatches Get Well Soon entirely with its bridge - a touching moment of pure helplessness tempered with acceptance. And then it ends on a completely atonal chord.
Meet The Trooth, a dive into full metalcore mode with tongue slightly in cheek. This is a big release from the previous track, yet feels hollow. Luckily the riffs are legitimately decent for what they are, so this song is easy to dig. After a comedy clip featuring a character familiar to Reggie fans (Guess Who's Back), we're treated to the super-syrupy synthpop pandering of Take Me Home, Please. It's a fun little palette refresher that points back to previous Reggie and the Full Effect albums, which have largely been far less serious and more pop-oriented by comparison. Listenable, not too deep.
After that diabetic shock, the complete emotional breakdown of Thanks for the Misery fades into being, showing many of the album's most raw, honest, real moments. A lyrical musing on that one moment where everything falls apart, leaving one dumbfounded, Dewees delivers his lines with casual defeat in his voice. If you're going through anything similar, this song will get stuck in your head. The Fuck Stops Here throws a curveball with a slow buildup into a screaming tantrum against the ex that caused this whole story. As it progresses, it develops into more coherent, defiant, and confident statements, casting an angry backlash upon and creating a final separation from the girl the album is about.
The next three tracks are style parodies. Amusing, well-produced, and a good reminder that the musician doesn't take himself 100% seriously and neither should you, they almost feel like bonus track's. Love Reality's British pop silliness, done in the style of Dewees' alter ego for such purposes, Fluxuation, leads giddily into Laura's Australian Dance Party, a fun yet repetitive track, which fades into fake band Common Denominator's KMFDM-inspired Deathnotronic. Stacked together like this, one gets a sense that the serious bit of the album is over.
And that's why the album closer, Playing Dead, just doesn't work. At this point we've already had resolution - and a satisfying one - in TFSH and a little circus to get us back in the mood of lightheartedness; where the hell did this downer ending come from? It's hard to get back into the flow and truly appreciate this song as part of the album, as opposed to listening to it by itself, which hurts the album as a single cohesive whole, and considerably.