Monday, March 21, 2005
Damn, Reggie you feelin ok? Are things alright in Reggieville? Did Paco have a heart murmur? Did that drunk girl from the Get Up Kids show sue your ass? Something's definitely up...
I mean, "subtle?"
Of all the descriptives likely to grace a Reggie and the Full Effect press packet, the probability of "subtle" being one of them has to be about the same as "urban" or "celtic." NO ONE who familiar with previous Reggie releases would pop this fourth album in expecting subtlety any more than they would expect, say, a "triumph" going into "Episode III: Revenge of the Sith."
Yet somehow James DeWees the guy who penned "Fiona Apple Can Kiss My Black Ass" and "Dwarf Invasion" is dropping that term in reference to his new album (release: Mar. 29). And for once, he's not joking.
That said, the music on "Songs Not to Get Married To" is anything but subtle. Hyped-up emo-pop, jaw-grinding metalcore and synth-laden eurodance is still Reggie's M.O. The difference is the lyrical content. For the first time in his career, Reggie ahem, James DeWees seems to be singing about stuff that matters.
The change is notable considering Reggie's previous tendency to litter songs with inside jokes. Occasionally the gimmick worked, but most of the time it left listeners out in the cold. Yeah, "MOOD 4 LUV" was funny; but what the hell was "Image Is Nothing, Lobsters Are Everything?"
DeWees obviously had these things in mind when he divorced his wife and "lost everything" prior to writing this album. If there's a silver lining in such a life trauma, DeWees has found it - it's inspired him to take down the curtain and write from a more universal perspective. As a result, songs like "Get Well Soon" and "Playing Dead" pack a vitriolic punch that resonates deeper than any of his previous efforts.
This human element proves essential when confronted with the glossier-than-thou production afforded by longtime partner Ed Rose and Black Lodge Studios. If MTV hasn't come calling yet, it's not for lack of effort: "Caving" and "What the Hell is Contempt" are just begging for TRL spins with a can't-miss combination of studio sheen and colossal catchiness.
Lest SNTGMT be perceived as an attempt to win the mainstream's warm embrace, Reggie proves he's still Reggie with tongue-in-cheek numbers like "Love Reality" (think Weird Al doing Depeche Mode) and "Deathnotronic" (the requisite contribution from Reggie's Finnish metal alter-ego "Common Denominator"). DeWees also revisits his Coalesce days (he was the drummer) with the raspy-throated metalcore of "The Trooth" and reprises the dirty-talkin' "drunk girl" skits with "Guess Who's Back."
While by their very nature such gimmick songs are hit-or-miss, they're a whole lot more digestible when packaged alongside some genuinely purposeful rock. To that end, Reggie's divorce brought him more than pain; it scored him a ticket to be a kid just a little bit longer.