Reggie And The Full Effect

Last Stop: Crappy Town

Written by: TL on 07/10/2008 20:24:07

Reggie And The Full Effect is, as I've recently learnt, a moniker behind which James Dewees (ex-drums/ex-keyboards Coalesce/The Get Up Kids) has been operating under ever since the break-up of the latter, and the recent album "Last Stop: Crappy Town" is actually the fifth full length released under that name throughout the years. Regardless, it's the first of the "band's" albums to show up on my radar, and as such I can't really compare it to the earlier works, but from what I've read, it's quite darker than its predecessors. As for the quotation marks around the word "band's", they're there because while the record features both ordinary rock instruments, pianos, strings, synths and possibly more, Dewees is said to play almost all of it himself (I'm guessing not the violins though), and only enlists the help of friends for tours.

The first thing you might notice before even putting this record on is that eight of twelve tracks on it are titled with single letters, and the remaining four bear street names. The explanation is that the letters and street names correspond to the route that Dewees had to take every day when he was going through rehab. Not that you need that information to appreciate the record. As for the people criticizing it for being darker and heavier than the apparently usually brighter and sillier style of the band, I have little understanding, because surely, when an album sounds as original and interesting as this, who cares if it's a departure in style?

You see "Reggie" is doing something quite extraordinary on "Last Stop: Crappy Town". From the opening track "G", the listener quickly becomes aware of the dynamics between the raw vocals and heavily distorted guitars and the creepy synth melodies, and while the curiosity of it occupies your thoughts, you're probably going to miss the seamless transition into the second song "Smith & 9th", despite the fact that it's almost a polar opposite in sound. Relying solely on drums and electronics, the song puts haunting lyrics in your head.

"It's a major complication / How'd you do this to the nation?"

The track really portrays the feeling of social reflection you might experience taking train rides through the city on early mornings, before giving way to the sinister and brutal "F", making your mind think of heading into deep dark realms where machinery chugs away with heavy and unforgiving noises.

It's here, at the bottom of everything, that Dewees drops an absolute bomb of a song on us. "E" is quite simply an instant classic. It might be a three-chord composition with a painfully obvious song structure and an overload on the chorus, but by the synth melodies and raw depressing vocals, it manages to come out of your speakers feeling like an irresistible anthem for the damned. If nothing else would catapult "Reggie" to an underground cult status, this song should. "3rd Avenue" serves as an interlude before the manic disillusioned anger of "L"'s opening hits us, and both have me thinking of what Dog Fashion Disco did on "Adultery". "L" ends in a rumbling apathetic chorus, before transgressing into the album's lead single "J". Fittingly, what follows the realization of apathy on the previous track is here a distanced, unstable and manic sort of humour, with verses accompanied by handclapping and a hysteric chorus.

At this point I don't think there's a need for me to give more of the album away. Either you're interested in it or you're not, and either way, you can rest assured think that the remaining songs on the album live up to the prior ones. It's cool that "Last Stop: Crappy Town", despite having really heavy parts, still has an overall expression that's unlikely to scare away even casual listeners, because hopefully it'll ensure that more people check it out. - And while this review might suggest that we're dealing with some kind of prog rock titan here, really it's more of a pop/rock/goth(core!) opera, easily accessible to most people, and even if few of the tracks on it are ones that you'd pull out and put on individually, the overall cohesion makes for a train ride you really should go onboard with James Dewees on.

Download: E, Smith & 9th, J
For The Fans Of: Dog Fashion Disco, Boysetsfire, Gatsby's American Dream,
Listen: myspace.com/reggieandthefulleffect

Release Date 17.06.2008
Vagrant Records

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