Reggie and the Full Effect - Last Stop: Crappy Town (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Reggie and the Full Effect

Last Stop: Crappy Town (2008)


I was never part of the increasingly popular thought that Reggie and the Full Effect had lost his touch. I truly believe he actually produced his best effort with 2003's diverse and dynamic Under the Tray, and that the straight-faced followup, 2005's Songs Not to Get Married To, worked on a healthy mix of Reggie's feel-good emo-pop breaks and main man James Dewees heavily (in more ways than one) channeling his days in Coalesce. Even after all the criticisms the poor dude was hit with as he went through divorce and drug issues, I refused to believed he had peaked long ago on 1998's Greatest Hits '84-'87. But now, with what seems it may very well be Reggie's final effort, I have to finally concede and admit that Dewees' one-man circus has run its beloved course.

Last Stop: Crappy Town's track listing is based on the train lines Dewees would take to his rehab sessions, and why, who knows. None of the songs really specifically relate to the train line or something; plenty are generally about Dewees past and his quest to build himself back up. Lyrically, it tends to be painful hearing Dewees sing about it, but not always because he's being so sincere -- rather because he can't always be so well-expressed about it ("I smoke a lot and used to do a lot of...hugs!"). Dewees always managed to be funny through his characters, atmospheres and bizarre clips of a drunk hick at the bar -- not intelligence-insulting one-liners.

Opener "G" seems like a parodic imagination of what would've happened if that Get Up Kids / Coalesce split meshed into one questionable song, between Dewees iffy dog barking and desperate, overly nasal singing, as well as the overdone keyboards on it. A similar vibe permeates "F," with no real sense of purpose or feeling going. The track in between, "Smith & 9th" is a promising swelling of electronics and a subtle approach from Dewees, but it still passes by rather innocuously. "L" has some cool moments, but it tends to sound like weird outtakes from Dillinger Escape Plan's Ire Works.

Much of the album simply drags, with Dewees offering little in the way of compelling or memorable melodies, with synths slogging along and Dewees' occasional roar doing little for the deadening dynamic. He sounds simply exhausted and beaten during most of "V," and that's not in a sadly beautiful post-punk way.

Many of James Dewees' projects through the years have been stark, strong accomplishments -- Coalesce is vastly considered one of the most important progressive heavy bands of the last decade or so, and the beloved Get Up Kids helped revive a mid-`90s sound through incredible and earnest pop songwriting. Even his contributions to My Chemical Romance's theatrical live show have drawn some mainstream critical acknowledgements. But as far as Reggie goes, this seems to be where the buck stops. Rehabilitation meetings seem an inspired enough experience, but Last Stop: Crappy Town is often boring, occasionally cringeworthy and largely uninteresting.

Last Stop: Crappy Album? Maybe.