After a brief foray into quasi-serious songwriting with 2011’s Fantastic Dracula, the jokesters of Crappy Dracula take the more obvious route indicated by their band name on the new Tooo Muuuch, throwing grandiosity to the dingos in favor of a dizzying hodgepodge of absurdity. This approach makes Fantastic Dracula seem almost pretentious with its hooks, words, and songs that last more than two and a half minutes. Even disregarding the band’s own humorous textual insertions into its MP3s (to get the full Tooo Muuuch experience, you’ll need to click “Get Info” on the songs), grins and guffaws are the only goals here, aimed with laser-precision at the sensibilities of people who enjoy copious references to Bill Cosby’s Ghost Dad. Singer-guitarist Justin Kern, singer-bassist Dug Belan, and drummer Brock Gourlie may not be the Weird Als of Milwaukee, but their responsibility levels are through the ceiling.
It’s tough to form lucid opinions about these songs while listening to them; they’re riddled with ridiculous non sequiturs that your brain wants to connect into a worthwhile conceptual experience, but you end up laughing at a joke you’ve already heard a half-dozen times and thus you still haven’t heard the next joke. In this sense, listening to the final track, “For Your Convenience, All Of the Choruses Combined Into One Song,” is only slightly more efficient than listening to the whole album. However, it is easy to get caught up in a stylistic lampoon like the stone-faced new-wave groove of “Universal Haircut,” or the sickly digital kazoo (?) rendering of a melody not entirely unlike the theme from The Muppet Show. These are followed by an epic layered-bass finale (“September’s Embrace”) that leaves you feeling supremely ripped off that the tune only lasts a minute, even though you’re still sort of pissed off/giggling about the previous track. Or are you?
Still, good luck not getting a jumbled approximation of one of the choruses of “Myth Man” (easily the best actual song on the album) stuck in your head for an hour after you think you’ve figured out some of the words. Then there’s the infomercial-masquerading-as-a-work-in-progress “Margaritaville” (where you can rent-to-own a dad), the jittery punk orgasm of “Fun Doin’ It,” and the emotive singer-songwriter agony/German chocolate cake recipe “The Difference Between You And I With The Recipe For The Same Lunch.” All are endearing bits of pretend ineptitude, but the overall result doesn’t suggest that the creative minds behind Crappy Dracula are any closer to completing their ultimate ska opera. First, they’d have to rename the band something palatable like Vampire Weekend, and eschew the self-effacement and, you know, get serious about singing and playing instruments. Such limitations never stopped Weird Al, though.
(Crappy Dracula celebrates the release of Tooo Muuuch Saturday, May 25 at Cactus Club. The Fatty Acids and Ramma Lamma open.)