Reggie and the Full Effect, Under The Tray (Vagrant)

reggie-full-effect-trayThis isn’t like any other record you’ve heard. For starters, it’s huge. The guitar chords in the first song, “Your Bleedin’ Heart,” tower over you. You could swim in the bass. The keyboards are so loud that it’s sometimes hard to tell they aren’t more guitars. The only real stumbling block to this rocking the hell out is that the voice is almost too similar to hundreds of pretty-boy rock bands – you know, that tuneful but indistinguishable quality.

Luckily, Reggie and the Full Effect aren’t emoting, just having fun. “Congratulations Smack and Katy” pounds along on crazy loud keyboards and more big guitars. It’s Miami Vice-esque drum machine fills in the intro fit perfectly into the super-produced sound. “What Won’t Kill You Eats Gas” offers more head-bobbing rhythms and sing-along refrains as Reggie and co. integrate electronic keyboards and drum machines with guitars and live drums flawlessly. “Getting By With It’s” is full of cheesy keyboards, but it’s hooks are undeniable. It’s like Ben Folds playing with T’Pau.

In between many of the songs are tape recordings of various opinionated persons on the street. “Drunk Girl at the Get Up Kids Show” makes several appearances. Reggie and the Full Effect also include several joke songs. While each has the same great production as the other songs, it makes for an uneven record. The Human League takeoff “Mood 4 Luv” is pretty funny as a piss-take of the Faint and other current new wave groups, but the obviously hokey vocal doesn’t lend itself to repeats.

The record ends oddly with a couple of joke songs, a couple of street recordings and the out-of-place ballad “Megan 2K2.” It leaves the listener in a weird place. Still, thankfully, Reggie and the Full Effect don’t take themselves too seriously and have recorded a handful of fun songs and other oddities.

[This piece originally appeared in the Rage.]