This review is not going to be pretty- let me get that out of the way first. It’s almost difficult to say a lot about this album, because the album doesn’t give a lot back to the listener to even digest. Dredg has always been a band that relied on its dedicated, albeit small, fanbase for publicity and praise. The band has never had much commercial success, regardless of the fact that their last album (The Pariah, the Parrot, the Delusion) could have easily been a hit with listeners all over the world if it just reached their ears. While Dredg’s sound has changed with each album, I remember first being introduced to them on a metal – yes, metal- tour in the early 2000s. Dredg was considered at that time, a sort of alt metal band that just happened to have cleaner and more polished vocals than most pop acts out there. Ya, I know it doesn’t really make sense, but it worked. So fast-forward to now, and I’m pretty sure if you listened to Chuckles and Mr. Squeezy, you would think I just made the bit about seeing Dredg on a metal tour up (I didn’t). Dredg has continuously morphed into a new entity with every album but this latest emodiment just doesn’t sit well with me, and seemingly from early reviews a lot of other fans. There are 3 tracks on the album that I will go back and listen to, and that means 8 tracks I will revisit maybe once a year- that’s not a very good ratio. Those 3 tracks are “Upon Returning”, “Somebody is Laughing” and the single “The Thought of Losing You”. Just for fun, here are 3 tracks I will never listen to again: “The Tent”, Down Without a Fight”, and “The Ornament”. The funny thing about “The Ornament” is that it has been a pretty popular song during their live shows, but the recording on this album turns it into a boring R&B ballad. Most people who listen to this album will be Dredg fans already, but for those of you who haven’t experienced or heard Dredg yet, there is no way I can recommend this album to you. Every Dredg fan has their favorite album, the one that convinced them to ride the wave of different styles and experimentation that the band takes with each project. For many, that is El Cielo, a classic in the Dredg community, and for me it is the surprising addictiveness and song structure of The Pariah, the Parrot, the Delusion. The new album Chuckles and Mr. Squeezy goes at the bottom of that list. It’s hard not to blame the new producer, Dan the Automator, who was brought on for this project. Everything Dan did right with West Ryder Pauper Lunatic Asylum for Kasabian in 2009 was lost here on the Dredg album. I hope that this is the end of Dan the Automator being involved as a producer with Dredg, because he morphed the Dredg sound into a really simple and bad hip-hop album with this latest release. Let’s hope the next experimentation gets as far away from that sound as possible.
~ Reinvention gone wrong. Worth a listen for die-hard fans, but not worth the time for newcomers. Try not to fall asleep to this one.