Dredg Tries to Make You Chuckle
Monday, May 16, 2011 4 Comments
From the moment I heard the title for Dredg’s new album, Chuckles and Mr. Squeezy, I knew it would be a bit different. Little did I imagine that it would not just be a little different, but the type of different where helmets are mandatory and you get to ride the short bus to school.
Dredg has a track record of taking “creative gambles” with their albums. From the Nu-Metal sounds of their Orph EP beginnings to the pop-tastic Catch Without Arms, they have shown a drive to never be contained by one genre. That being said, not ever gamble can pay off. Just like ripping a fart an hour after eating some bomb chinese food, you run the risk of that “oh shit!” moment. The real question is, did Dredg shit their pants on this one?
Following the 2009 masterpiece that was The Pariah, The Parrot, The Delusion is a tough task and I admire Dredg looking for a new artistic direction. For this effort they decided to tap Dan the Automator to help produce and co-write the album. Mr. Automator has a very successful track record in the hip-hop world with such gems as Mike Patton’s “Peeping Tom” and Deltron’s “3030”. The result of this partnership has produced an album that does what Dredg set out to do: make something different. However different does not always mean BETTER.
Chuckles and Mr. Squeezy starts of with what sounds exactly what you would expect with these 2 working together: imagine Gangster’s Paradise meets 80’s new wave. An interesting combo that could work in theory, but it just falls flat due to a very un-exciting, monotone vibe.
Listening through the album you are pushed and pulled between two very different sonic landscapes. On one end, you have the more electronic, trip-hop style of “The Tent” or “Sun Goes down”. These tracks provide some of the best musical textures on the album but fall flat vocally. It seems as if vocalist, Gavin Hayes, is stuck in a very chill mindset with no desire to belt out those true emotionally charged notes that defined albums like El Ceilo. The result is a disconnect between the vocal performance and the music.
The music actually pairs very well with visuals in a Pink Floyd sort of way.
On the other side, you have track’s like “The Thought of Losing You” which captures that old energy and spirit of Catch Without Arms. Catchy hooks, strong vocals, and, most importantly, a sense of tension and release. While most tracks on the album seem very monotonous, this track has character and actually demands you to listen and get involved with the arc of the song.
From beginning to end, this album seems very confused — but not all of that is a bad thing. This record is just one step in a new direction that could really work well for Dredg. Despite not being my favorite album by this foursome, it does continue hold my interest a week after release which is a feat in itself. I have moments of wanting to listen to this album over and over but its appeal is as a chill, “I’m getting shit done” music; much different from the usual Dredg album, in which my entire attention is focused on the sonic journey the band is taking me on.
Dredg is still is a creative force I respect greatly and though Chuckles and Mr. Squeezy is not a bad album, it is not up to par with their other releases. Dredg didnt shit the bed on this one but they may have left a lot of us with musical blue balls, wondering what’s next?