Twice in the past month this has happened to me – that uneasy feeling when a new album arrives by one of your favorite artists and doesn’t manage to live up to expectations. It always puts me in that weird spot where I almost don’t want to say anything at all, if only because I don’t want unfamiliar listeners to avoid giving other albums from an artist’s back (or future) catalog a spin… but then there’s just the reality that as a reviewer, I have to do the same thing I’ve done in varying capacities since 1992, and lay it out – tell it like it is, and offer up my opinion. After all, as PRIMUS once said, “they can’t all be zingers.”
What we have here with the release of THE PERFECT QUIRK (out June 24, 2014), the new album from SECRET AGENT 23 SKIDOO, is a disappointing record with at least one great song thrown in. Actually, it will no doubt be received as a fine album for many families, but it really sunk here.
It just starts wrong for me, with the reggae-driven “You’re It” leading things off. You see, with few exceptions (and there are some), I don’t like reggae. Can’t stand Bob Marley, Peter Tosh, et al – even the theme song to ARTHUR (a show we love) tends to rub me the wrong way. “The Joint” is just two stations away from Liquid Metal on SiriusXM, and just one away from Faction, and that can be a problem. On the flip, I really dig a lot of ska, and bands like SKINDRED and THE URGE, and they’ve certainly had some of that flavor. But the steel drums on this lead Skidoo track? Not feeling it.
Then we hit “Unwind,” which is a cool tune, with some great vocals and groove – but the intro and chorus (sung by Jamar Woods) feels too loud and overbearing. The rest is kind of all over the place, from the pseudo-EDM vibe of “Pillowfort Pillowfight” (featuring a guest shot from RECESS MONKEY’s Jack Forman), to a decent harmonica-led jam on “PJs All Day” (which features Skidoo’s daughter MC Fireworks heavily), a welcome appearance by MISTA COOKIE JAR dropping by to drop a verse on the otherwise lackluster “Guess What,” and a strong effort with the funk grooves of “Caught in the Screen.”
But I did say there was one great song… and what a song it is…
“Imaginary Friend” is a song I could listen to repeatedly, and I have. The bizarre, almost carnival-like groove captures some of the weirdness that I’ve always embraced from bands like DOG FASHION DISCO and SECRET CHIEFS 3, but brought into a kindie realm, complete with a storytelling style that lends itself to a fantastic visual palette – one I hope will eventually materialize for a memorable music video somewhere down the line.
My personal feelings aside, there have been plenty of times when I don’t dig something, but the rest of the family does. With THE PERFECT QUIRK, it got the infamous “turned down in the car” move from my wife (a regular sign of disapproval), but she actually became vocal on this one, flat out stating: “This is too loud, and just not very good.” And my girls? Completely indifferent on this, which is surprising, since I figured Addie would be all over it.
While THE PERFECT QUIRK is not one of my favorites, do check out Skidoo’s 2012 album, MAKE BELIEVERS, which was awarded a perfect Five-Star review here on THE ROCK FATHER nearly two years ago, or 2013’s live album, LIVE AT THE ORANGE PEEL. Curious? You can even get a FREE five-song sampler direct from Skidoo on Bandcamp.