Bay Area experimental rock quartet Dredg, who once could compete with Chevelle for the best Tool-wannabes on the block, explore a dreamier pop sound on album No. 5. Chuckles and Mr. Squeezy sees the group utilizing danceable rhythms, melodic singing, and plenty of studio effects to create music that is much less guitar-centric, and as a result, much less rock-centric, than Dredg’s previous releases. In fact, some tracks, like “Down Without a Fight,” are built almost solely around synth noises and feature little to no guitar at all, and most of the songs have an atmospheric, rather than aggressive, feel that is complemented well by frontman Gavin Hayes’s croon, although the tracks that rely on dance-y beats quickly becomes repetitive. If old Dredg were like Tool, this is more Puscifer.
The band seems to allude self-deprecatingly to its new sound on the album’s first track “Another Tribe,” as Hayes sings, “Here we go again, following all the trends.” But while Dredg surely mean this jokingly, longtime devotees may not take it so funny, feeling like one of their favorite bands has indeed followed the crowd and drifted far afield from the sound that originally endeared the group with fans. Yet even those who feel that way would be hard pressed to deny that Dredg do pull the new approach off with some real success. DAVID McKENNA