Under Review: Crash Test Dummies – Oooh La La!

As we’ve learned before, the Crash Test Dummies are still kicking around.  To be fair, the band has existed in some capacity for the past 22 years.  In recent years, though, the lineup has been pared down to leader Brad Roberts and vocalist Ellen Reid.  In keeping with the uncertain nature of the band, their latest album, Oooh La La!, went through several stages of ‘not happening’-ness since tracks were first laid down in 2006.  Those recordings may or may not have been intended for a Roberts solo album, as the Dummies were technically on hiatus at the time.  One of the tracks, “You Said You’d Meet Me (In California),” was included on a Dummies best-of compilation that came out in 2007.  Originally, Oooh La La! was supposed to be a digital-only release, but a deal with Deep Fried Records led to a more traditional release.  Reid joined in the sessions later on, and Roberts announced that the duo would be the only two contributing members on the new album.  With all that background and sluggish progress, is the album worth the wait for those of us who have stuck with the band following their commercial appeal days?  Pretty much.

Even though the demos for the album were recorded several years ago, the click tracks and general production of Oooh La La! often make the songs sound like demos themselves.  There’s often a wide gap between Roberts’ vocals and the prefab instrumentation (many of the songs prominently feature toy and novelty instruments).  As a result, songs like “What I’m Famous For” and “Now You See Her” explore genres that one might not expect from the Dummies (namely honky-tonk and big band).  The experiments are fun if a bit forced.  Similarly, Roberts occasionally sounds as though he’s straining to deliver his trademark bellow.  You can even hear his chin being planted deep in his collarbone on “Paralyzed.”  There are still plenty of lovely moments on the album, none of them lovelier than Reid’s closing tune, “Put A Face.”  The Crash Test Dummies have always made music for acquired tastes, and the new material is no different.  If you liked them before, you’ll probably dig them still.  If you thought they were too strange or boring, Oooh La La! isn’t going to change your mind.  I’d still recommend it to the casual fan, but it’s hardly the best entry point to the world of this most peculiar band.


~ by E. on June 4, 2010.

One Response to “Under Review: Crash Test Dummies – Oooh La La!”

  1. Well, I for one, LIKE the album. But I have always been a fan of music just outside the norm.

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