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Thursday, September 24, 2009

Wallpaper.: "Doodoo Face"

It was over a year ago that I received a copy of T Rex, the debut EP from Oakland pop/soul duo, Wallpaper.  I must admit that, at first, it was something that I didn't entirely understand.  "Oh great, auto-tuned, dancey, pop music,"  I thought.  "Just what the industry needs."  But then I actually listened to the CD and discovered that it was so much more.  Granted, it is still auto-tuned, dancey, pop music; but it's also complex, brilliantly produced, and most importantly, smart.  You see, Ricky Reed - the frontman alter-ego of Eric Frederic - seems to only be interested in making music that is undeniably fun.  More often than not, this results in tongue-in-cheek, light-hearted, egocentric lyrics that have me laughing out loud.  One thing is for sure though, Wallpaper. is not a group that takes themselves too seriously despite the fact that there is some serious talent and skill all over Doodoo Face.

The album starts off with "Indecent," not the strongest song on Doodoo Face, but a good introduction to the music of Wallpaper. and the character of Ricky Reed.  The production on the song is top notch, with some absolutely killer drums and vocal effects going on.  It's followed by the only song to make the leap from their earlier EP, "T Rex."  Though less than 3 minutes long, the song is absolutely irresistible - proven by the fact that I have yet to tire of it after over a year of listens.  Reed sings about going "big on the weekends," emphasizing, "I go T Rex."  That phrase, as it turns out, has already made it into my vernacular (i.e. Them: "Why you dressed so fly?" Me: "Just goin' T Rex"); proof of a truly great pop song, I suppose.

The albums first single shows up next, and is easily one of Wallpaper's best tracks to date.  "I Got Soul, I'm So Wasted" has only been available for about 5 weeks at the time of this writing, and it's already racked up over 60 plays on my iTunes.  While that may seem obsessive, it's just a completely infectious song that I can't get out of my head!  Once again the production is masterful, and I find myself hearing new bleeps, bloops, and bass lines each time I listen to it.  "ddd" is just as awesome, featuring some of Doodoo Face's most-quotable lines.  My favorite is when Reed skips a beat in the vocal line, only to say, "Just skipped a beat to emphasize I date models," though one could also make a case for his musings on paying utilities, stolen iPods, and "rando dude(s) sippin' on wine cooler."  This song, like its predecessor, has been getting constant spins since I fearst heard it.

The album takes a quick dip in quality with "Celebrity," a song that has a lot of cool elements, but just doesn't come together well enough to repeatedly satisfy.  "It's My Birthday" is pretty much anyone guy's new b-day jam, featuring Reed hinting at his ultimate birthday gift - sex.  He sings, "Oh, do what I want to/ and I want you/ I want you" in the chorus to great effect!  This is also the first song where the saxophone plays a really significant role (though it appears in "Indecent" as well), giving the music a very retro-pop vibe to it.  I don't want to commit entirely to the idea that it sounds like a totally rad Lionel Richie song, but I'll throw the idea out there for discussion.

"I Ain't Most Dudes" continues the retro-feel, but has the added benefit of an absolutely flawless vocal melody and backing female vocals.  Reed sings, "Yes, I will be a gentleman if you want me to" in the chorus, creating probably the catchiest, funkiest moment on all of Doodoo Face.  It's definitely a song to keep on repeat.  The first time I listened to "Fine GF," I hated it.  It begins very minimalistically (probably not a real word); Ricky and some notes.  That's all.  Eventually it builds into a somewhat touching ballad, complete with a fantastic trumpet section, which is a nice touch.  However, if Wallpaper. was insistant on a ballad for Doodoo Face, I would've rather it been "Txt Me Ur Love" from T Rex.  It's not only better than "Fine GF," but the best song on that EP.  Its omission from the album is a minor travesty in and of itself.

"Frk Scn" was my least favorite song on Doodoo Face the first time through, but I'm warming up to it.  The harmonies in this song are unbelievable, and the creativity of it is equally mind-blowing.  It did seem to be a little heavy on production and light on vocal effectiveness at first, but I like it.  "Gettin' Drip" is probably another one of those terms that'll soon enter the vernacular.  It obviously refers to drinking, though more specifically, "pre-partying" which shouldn't really need an explanation.  The song itself sounds like an updated "P.Y.T." which I'm totally okay with, seeing as how its one of my favorite MJ songs.

And this brings us to the title track, and closer, "Doodoo Face."  Lacking any sort of traditional pop song structure, "Doodoo Face" still excels at being both endlessly quotable and ridiculously catchy.  Whether it's "You smellin' like soccer practice," "Look at my funky moon boots," or "Deep sea diving in your junk," chances are there's something in this song that you're going to laugh at, or at the very least smile.  Doodoo Face is filled with these moments and is one of the most fun musical experiences I've had in quite a while.  There are no "girl you done me wrong" moments, no malice or negativity in the lyrics, or occasions where you feel they went too far.  Only the most shallow of critics could dismiss Wallpaper. as another over auto-tuned pop act.  They are so much more.  With wit and talent, Ricky Reed has given us both a pseudo-satirical look at the excesses of the party culture and easily one of the best mainstream pop albums of the decade.  All that from an album featuring an ridiculously iced-out face on its cover.  Not bad.

Key Tracks:
1. "T Rex"
2. "I Got Soul, I'm So Wasted"
3. "ddd"
4. "I Ain't Most Dudes"
5. "Doodoo Face"

8 out of 10 Stars


Anonymous said...

I dunno, man. You don't like The Smiths, but you're diggin' this drivel?

Cale said...

I don't know what you mean, but I'm really glad you're feelin' me.

Cale said...
This comment has been removed by the author.