Review by William Dibble, photos courtesy of Reggie and the Full Effect
One of the core defining essences of punk rock is a desire to do your own thing. Certainly, people will try to tell other people what “is” and “is not” punk, but at the end of the day, it is a wide and diverse genre. Reggie and the Full Effect are no exception to this. Their 7th full-length album releases on 23rd February, 2018, and is titled 41. They have a pleasant sound that lands them firmly in the genre of ‘pop punk’ and your heart, simultaneously.
41 opens with two tracks titled in Italian. “Il Sniffy Incontra” is a choral track, reminiscent of Gregorian chants. “Il Pesce Svedese” is the album’s first all-out punk song. If Google Translate is correct, they translate to “Sniffy Meet” and “Swedish Fish” respectively. It is more common to find album introductions like “il Sniffy Incontra” in the metal genre, where dramatic intro tracks are much more frequently seen. The second track, “il Pesce Svedese”, on the other hand is a fast and light punk piece that is listenable, energetic, and fast. The repeated lyric, “I wish I could have seen you coming” is catch, easy to pick up on, and fun. It wouldn’t be out of place to compare this track to older pieces by Against Me and Sum 41. “Alone Again” starts out a bit softer, with a pleasant and soothing keyboard intro. Reggie and the Full Effect’s vocals bring back memories of the 2000’s punk and emo movements. James Dewees’s twenty years in the industry show. This is the kind of song that would be at home in a soundtrack for a lighthearted movie. The lyrics are also catchy and fun, imploring you to not call him “oblivious, don’t call me at all.” The combined drum and clap beat is bouncy and, for lack of a better word, engaging.
The fourth track, “Broke Down”, is a change from the previous two high-energy punk pieces. “Broke Down” is a much softer song, focusing largely on vocals and lower-profile instrumentals. This track would work fantastically as an album single. It showcases James’s vocals, but also his ability to write catchy instrumental pieces. “Heartbreak” starts with a vibrating bassline that draws you in, adding drums and other instruments slowly. The vocals in this song are softer than prior songs, and remain that way throughout. While “Broke Down” is also a softer song, this one is much more keyboards centric, lacking the signature punk-rock style half-yells of the other song. The synth running behind it all gives it a very cheerful and inviting sound. This can leave the listener unprepared for the heavier, louder “Karate School”. “Karate School” has a very early 2000’s sound to it. It calls to mind All American Rejects and The Killers in places, while remaining distinctly Reggie. If anything, this album’s first six songs really give you the full effect.
“The Horrible Year” returns to the softer instruments of “Broke Down”. It is a decently fast song, but it is also fun, and features both softer and yelled vocals. In it, he implores you to tell him what is on your mind, what is really going on. It is catchy, fun, and pleasant. “New Years Day” is also really soft. It isn’t quite acoustic, but does feature extensive clean guitars. It marks a restful mid-point to a solid and pleasant album. Between the vocals and the subtle backing synths, it is a great composition. “Maggie” is a bit faster-tempo, but like the previous few songs, is very soft. This is not by any means a bad thing. As stated earlier, punk rock is a wide and diverse genre. These softer songs demonstrate that with finesse. “Channing Tatum Space Rollerblading Montage M…” opens with a galloping, sample- and synth-heavy track. It feels very… Eighties. In a Stranger Things kind of way. It is, despite being drastically different from any other songs, fun to listen to and feels very upbeat.
The last portion of the album begins with “You’ve Got Secrets”. It marks a return from the side journey that was “Channing Tatum” back to the pop punk heritage of the rest of the album. The repeated “You’ve got secrets” gets stuck in your head very quickly. 41 doesn’t spend a lot of time back in the pop-punk territory. It is difficult to say where, in the vast sea of musical genres, “Trap(ing) Music (feat. Common Denominator)” fits. It is a heavy song mixed with whimsical-feeling synths and raspy, throaty vocals. “And Next with Feeling”, like the eleventh track, returns to the rest of the album’s sound. The change is very jarring after the previous song, which shared a lot of qualities with the rap genre. 41 closes with the soft piano song, “Off Delaware”. It is a song where the sound of it will tug at your heartstrings. The slow send-off is an excellent end to a mostly excellent album.
“Channing Tatum” and “Trap(ing) Music” are odd inclusions on 41. They don’t fit in very well with the flow of the album, and the transitions to and from the songs are difficult and jarring. Other than that, 41 is an excellent entry into Reggie‘s discography. Fans of pop punk should definitely pick it up when it debuts on the 23rd. It will be available from most music retailers!