Screeching Weasel - Wiggle [Reissue] (Cover Artwork)

Screeching Weasel

Wiggle [Reissue] (2017)

Monona Music

The first thing we should all be asking ourselves is if Wiggle even deserves a 25th anniversary celebration. It is generally not remembered too fondly by anybody, including members of Screeching Weasel. It’s also sandwiched in between arguably the group’s two best albums, My Brain Hurts and Anthem for a New Tomorrow. I would guess Ben Weasel only did this remastering project for the money, but I still played in to his little scheme. If anything, My Brain Hurts should have gotten the anniversary/remaster treatment. The sound of that album is terrible, whereas the Wiggle recording never sounded too bad. Maybe Wiggle really is in need of a second chance (well, a third if you count the Asian Man rereleases) and maybe there is some sort of creative integrity behind all of this.

What piqued my interest is that it’s impossible to find physical copies of Wiggle anymore and my Lookout version was mysteriously sold years ago right around the time rent was due. And even better, these new copies of the disc come signed by Mr. Weasel himself, regardless if that actually matters or not. The album art is a little different, too. Instead of completely screwing up previous album artwork like he’s done in the past, Ben keeps this pretty much the same with the exception of replacing the black with yellow. I realize how all of this might seem dumb, but I was excited. What came next was disappointment.

This new 25th anniversary version of Wiggle could not be cheaper looking. It comes in one of those small cardboard sleeves that CD singles used to come in. There is no room for a booklet. The lyrics are so tiny they are unreadable. And, it features way less pictures than the original. You win, Ben. You have my money and I have a cardboard piece of crap. Albeit, a signed piece of crap. Luckily what matters the most, the actual music, has never sounded so good.

Remastered albums rarely sound any better. Sometimes they are louder and a little clearer, but I can only think of a few examples that sound so great after a remaster. As everyone who’s already heard Wiggle knows, the record starts out with the weird half-instrumental “Hanging Around”. There is a good song somewhere in “Hanging Around” and it serves as an okay opener to an okay album. It’s the first of many songs on here that have that Crimpshrine feel. “I’m Not in Love” should have been the opening track if this were a traditional Screeching Weasel album, but Wiggle is anything but traditional. Ben Weasel was obviously heavily influenced by Aaron Cometbus and it shows. The funny thing is Weasel is actually good at writing Crimpshrine-sounding songs. The man is a good songwriter and this comes through even on messy records like Wiggle. What also comes through particularly on this is Dan Vapid. He writes one of the best songs, “I Was a High School Psychopath”, and co-writes a few more. Screeching Weasel will always be better with Vapid and he somewhat helps redeem this underwhelming album.

One thing Wiggle has going for it is the song sequencing. Right after the boringly mediocre “Crying in my Beer” comes the fast, borderline hardcore “Slomotion”. This song and a few others serve as a wake-up call for the listener, a reminder that underneath everything Wiggle does have some substance. It’s also nice that despite attempting to mimic Cometbus and his more serious tone, there are some fun songs on here that Weasel fans should come to expect like “Jeannie’s Got a Problem with Her Uterus”. Yet, this dichotomy of songs is ultimately the album’s downfall. There is no direction to Wiggle. Remastered or not, it’s still all over the place. These songs would have been better suited on a couple of EPs instead of mashed together on an LP. Wiggle is kind of like Screeching Weasel’s White Album; there are a lot of good songs intertwined with a lot of nonsense. For example, one of the band’s best tunes, “It’s All in My Head”, is preceded by the throwaway track “Ain’t Got No Sense”. The underrated “Second Floor East” is stuck in-between two more skip-worthy songs. Wiggle simply just does not know what it wants to be. Ben Weasel almost tricked us into thinking that this is a great album, but it’s still not. Hopefully, the newly remastered version might force people to give it another shot and appreciate some of the better songs. Other than that, this whole vanity, money making project of Ben’s isn’t worth anybody’s time.