Reggie and the Full Effect

When he’s not scratching the ivories for the Get Up Kids or clobbering the skins for Coalesce, James Dewees hams it up as frontman for Reggie and the Full Effect. On his third full-length under the Reggie pseudonym, Dewees picks up where he left off on 2000’s Promotional Copy, which juxtaposed hip-hop, powerless pop and what can politely be called dwarf metal. Tray serves up equally multifarious fare with mixed results.

On the terrific “Mood 4 Luv,” Dewees dons a daffy British accent, appropriate for a song that’s essentially a spoofed-up remake of all those gushy Psychedelic Kajagoogoo Cures 4 Fears ditties of the ’80s. Despite his every effort to not be taken seriously, Dewees’ reverence for the Molly Ringwald era shines through the shtick. It’s Tray’s most unintentionally winning moment, almost good enough to redeem everything that follows. Several tunes (“You Bleedin’ Heart”) sound like really bad GUKs outtakes, and far-reaching failures (the Beach Boys-meets-Ben Folds Five “Getting By With It’s,” the son-of-Zappa weirdness titled “F.O.O.D. aka Aren’t You Hungary”) fall flat on their mugs. Dewees’ trademark Moog is featured prominently, infusing numbers such as “Congratulations Smack and Katy” with a breezy air, albeit one that’s as stale as a cigarette-butt sandwich on day-old bread.

On the other hand, if Dewees had just stuck to the instruments and kept his mouth shut, Tray might be something to write home about. As a vocalist, Dewees leaves everything to be desired, lacking Matt Pryor’s keening emotional impact and Sean Ingram’s guttural oomph. Worse are Dewees’ lyrics, which are so excruciating that one wonders if he’s joking. The “artistic” psychodroner “Image Is Nothing, Lobsters Are Everything,” begins with a forehead-slapping exercise in banality: Those doors won’t open up for you/Not now, not anymore/You’re not the person that you used to be. Someone enroll this boy in freshman poetry class before he writes another syllable. Hindered by lame inside jokes, half-finished throwaways and unsalvageable experiments, Reggie’s Tray wholly merits its side-project status.

Categories: Music