Reggie and the Full Effect - Last Stop: Crappy Town
Release Date: June 17, 2008
Record Label: Vagrant Records
James Dewees (or Reggie, as most should know) throws in his final towel in like a wet sack of punctuating defiance. Well, sort of. Defiant for him, maybe. But for most, most who are unfazed by anything that combines melody with calculated amounts of rage, Last Stop: Crappy Town will come dangerously close to the beaten screamo horse. But that's only if you throw away the finer details.
Dewees vocals aren't gentle or sexy or even that good (in the traditional sense), and that's always been one of the major appeals behind Reggie. On tracks like "E", where the slow, simple chug and Dewees are spatting out lines about second chances, he doesn't sound smooth but desperate and well, older. I like that, because it's 1) believable, 2) proves weakness and 3) fitting, considering this is likely the last Reggie record.
Opening with "G", Reggie is striking the mic with a strong growl, heavy distortion, and light but eerie electronics. The melody is a beast of sorts; it matches his pissy rumbles like a twin in hand. His silly skits and dance-concentrated beats from previous releases are not the main focus on Last Stop (or any focus, really). It shows mature progression, because who would believe a man who's still skates around on rollerblades, dressed as George Washington, after a decade. The somber transitions are also telling, like the dark aura on the ending of "E", the faint whispering from "3rd Ave" ("I guess I loved you too much"), the fulminating uppercuts anointing the beginning of "L", or the pinging thick and lethargic keys on "Lorimer St".
Even so, Dewees doesn't forget all that makes music fun. On "J", handclaps are ever-present, and thankfully, because the song immediately kicks up the mass catch appeal for "V", the following track, and "R", which sprinkles in Reggie's familiar electronic patterns. Producer Sean Beavan, known for his hefty distorted guitars, can chalk up some of the credit for the album's darker tones. But it's in Reggie's approach - inky and much more serious (see: the accumulating and repeating "Are you scared?" on ender "N") that controls all of Crappy Town from the dark side.
After Songs Not To Get Married To, this album isn't branching off any new feelings. Dewees' dynamic character (see: rollerblades and George Washington) have always crafted Reggie albums into reflections of personality and life experiences over basic sound concepts. All fun or very little fun, Reggie makes music that is distinctly Reggie, enveloping any screamo argument into invalidity. And, as far as my opinion is concerned, anyone who names their tracklisting after Brooklyn-related material (subways, to be exact), is automatically cool.