I hated Sugar ray. I hate “Fly.” I hate “Every Morning.” I hate Mark McGrath’s flat singing and his fame-whoring. I hated their super poppy “fusion” thing which seemed like some weird kind of experiment of what would happen if a generic “alternative” pop rock band tried to incorporate hip hop like it was nu metal, minus the rapping. I thought I absolutely hated this band.
Then I heard the first “New Direction” and I laughed out loud. I tried to stop myself from laughing out loud because I didn’t want to, but laugh I did. And then I learned what the title meant, and I chuckled a little bit. These guys have a sense of humour?!?!
That’s the good news. I was expecting to absolutely loathe this record but the first “New Direction” and a few other attempts at being funny won me over just a bit. But there is lots of bad news.
First, they are not sure whether they want to joke around or be earnest. There are plenty of earnest songs here, despite “New Direction” suggesting you are about to listen a poppier, cleaner, less talented Ween. If the comedy was better and throughout the record…well, there’s a world in which I like this at least a bit.
They genre hop, which is to their credit. The problem is that they’re just not good enough. When Ween (or Mr. Bungle) play a particular genre, you hear that genre – the band has the chops and the commitment to pull it off. Not these guys. McGrath is not a good enough singer – though he succeeds more than I thought he would – and the rest of the band isn’t skilled enough to pull off a Green Day parody (if it is a parody and not earnest) or to make a shitty, ’80s Steve Miller song better.
It’s a shame because some of the ideas are actually good. And I can’t believe I just wrote that, but it’s true. Who knew?