REVIEW: Dredg – “Chuckles And Mr. Squeezy”

Dredg / Chuckles And Mr. Squeezy / Superball Music

It’s been two years since the last album from the mystics in the California rock ensemble Dredg. On this, their fifth full length, the group seem to have been after a rejuvenation of some kind as seen in the production of the release. Dan the Automator’s (Gorillaz, Head Automatica) influence is immediately apparent on the cosmic funky crunch of the chorus on “Upon Returning” – but it doesn’t steal from the poetic heart of the band or the mantra-vocal style of Gavin Hayes. Hayes is obviously a great singer and talented songwriter, but one thing that sticks out is the lyrics on Chuckles and Mr. Squeezy. Throughout most of the songs, repetition seems to be at the top of the singer’s list of literary devices – and that repetition can and does grow a little tedious. Of course it makes sense to have broad cyclical vocals reflect Dredg’s slow, deliberate riffs and drum beats, but still, you can only hear “Anything that you need, anything at all / I’ll hunt down for you, then I’ll be coming home,” so many times before you’d prefer whoever it was actually not come back home.

Hayes does pen some very thoughtful songs, such as “Somebody is Laughing”, which is half “Eleanor Rigby” and half “The God Delusion”; or “The Ornament”, on which he and Dredg blast through the usual pathetic fallacy junk and just comes straight out with pain and why it hurts (“I’ve been aching for someone I’ve barely met / I’ve been begging for something I’ll never get”). In fact, that has a lot more going on for it than that – it’s also got a great mournful guitar lick and a lonely quiet sax that bookends it. The stellar hand-plucked middle-class ballad “Kalathat” also bears mentioning in this category. There really aren’t too many chuckles to be had listening to this album – truly genuine emotional pain caused by the unfairness of life just doesn’t have the same comedic effect as, say, sudden groin pain caused by a football.

Download: “Somebody Is Laughing”, “The Ornament”

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