dredg – Chuckles and Mr. Squeezy

written by: May 2, 2011
Release Date: May 3, 2011


There are myriad things that are annoying about emo prog rock band dredg. The second half of that last sentence, for starters, but their incessantly whiny lyrical quality and pseudo-experimental noodling make them one of the most laborious bands in pop today.

Refusing to settle, the band has turned the exasperation to 11 with their ludicrously titled album Chuckles and Mr. Squeezy, a woefully inauthentic foray into the world of techno beats and strained synthesizers.

And before you think this is a joke—it’s not. Their album is seriously called Chuckles and Mr. Squeezy. Seriously.

Hip-hop producer Dan the Automator helmed the album, and his touch can be seen in a number of odd places. There was a time when he was considered to be one of rap’s most avant-garde beat-makers, penning tracks for acts like Gorillaz as well as his own collaborations with DJ Shadow and fellow producer Prince Paul.

But any prowess he showed in his early career doesn’t find its way onto Chuckles and Mr. Squeezy. The album’s opening track, “Another Tribe,” boasts a beat that might have fit on an early Wu-Tang Clan record if it wasn’t so inorganically put together.

How he ended up here is anyone’s guess, but the once-revered Automator lends a helping hand in constructing an album that is easily one of the worst releases this year.

The album’s best track, “The Ornament,” boasts an airy and listless soundscape that somehow manages not to buckle under the weight of vocalist Gavin Hayes’ distended emotional wails. To their credit, dredg manages to sustain a marginally listenable quality for at least four minutes.

Any momentum is lost, however, when the album transitions to “The Thought of Losing You,” a ode to ’90s radio rock that features more of Hayes’ ridiculous ramblings: “After all this pain, the pain’s no more/After all the pain, the pain endures.” Logic holds no sway in the world of dredg.

Hayes may be the most laughable piece of the puzzle. As a lyricist, he’s always had a penchant for oxymoronic adages that sound cool on paper but don’t mean anything in real life (like on the band’s 2005 album, in which he wonders what it would be like to play catch without arms). As a vocalist, he simply refuses to let the music outshine him. There are plenty of moments on Chuckles and Mr Squeezy that would have benefitted from simply having him shut the hell up, like the surprisingly dancy track “Down Without a Fight.” His pompous crooning ruins a track that could have been at least mildly listenable.

Like “The Thought of Losing You,” a number of tracks often require repeat listens—and not because they’re enjoyable. The manufactured melodicism and lazy pop sensibility employed by the band are beyond phony. They transcend cheesy. This is a Smash Mouth b-sides album. A song like “Where I’ll End Up” sounds like it would fit perfectly on a Potbelly Sandwich Works soundtrack—bookended by a Jimmy Buffet tune and Alanis Morrisette’s cover of “King of Pain.”

Chuckles and Mr. Squeezy breeds incredulity. Much of the experience of listening to the album is dedicated to wondering how anyone, at any point, could write this music and feel okay with themselves.

dredg – Chuckles and Mr. Squeezy Tracklist:

  1. “Another Tribe”
  2. “Upon Returning”
  3. “The Tent”
  4. “Somebody is Laughing”
  5. “Down Without a Fight”
  6. “Thought of Losing You”
  7. “Kalathat”
  8. “Sun Goes Down”
  9. “The Ornament”
  10. “Where I’ll End Up”
  11. “Before It Began”