But here's why I can review the album - because I had nothing to do with any of it. I provided zero help, assistance, experience. Other than tuning Connor's guitar a time or two, this project is 100% theirs, from initial songwriting to rehearsals to Garage Band recording to uploading to Bandcamp.
Pretty darn cool, if you ask me.
Sparkling Fudge, which was officially birthed into the world July 1, is the worthy follow-up to The Fudgers Christmas Day 2015 debut, Blast Off! It is, as guitarist and co-lead singer Connor describes it, "Weezer meeting the Black Keys." I might throw White Stripes in the mix as well, if for no other reason than it follows the Jack White-inspired arrangement of music stripped down to nothing more than a single guitar and drums.
A quick listen through the 21 tracks makes clear some recurring themes that hearken back to their first album: food ("Don't Eat Moldy Cheese," "Tofu," "Cabbage," "Coffee Coffee," "Chicken Nugget," "Bunana") and pets ("Rocky," "Dog Poo"). And yet, The Fudgers stretch themselves into new arenas - delving into politics ("Trump The Grump"), love and romance ("Braudra," a tribute to their uncle Brad's marriage earlier this year to the lovely Audra), conspiracy theories ("Aliens Are Real") and the as-yet untapped songwriting nexus of grief and home improvement supplies ("A Tribute to My Dead Tape Measure"). The Fudgers also show their lighter, less-serious side, chronicling the laughable efforts of the persistent Sheldon/Jeffery trying in vain to make the band ("Cabbage.1" and "Cabbage.2"). And in a bold move they delve into music that simply refuses to be place in any category whatsoever ("Samuldidoowobblebobble").
Lyrically, The Fudgers leave no stone unturned, boldly engaging rhymes and verbal symmetry that other more well-seasoned songwriters might shy away from. A shining example from the lively "Foof":
Up in the sky
Eating chicken pie
To my friend, Ky
Can’t you see that I’m numb?
No you can’t because you’re dumb
And you’re a huge bum
Take a look at my thumb
I haven't looked at his thumb closely, but after this line, who wouldn't?
Sonically, once again The Fudgers deliver with clever melodies and hooks strategically laid on top of screaming guitar and pounding drums. One noticeable addition in this particular incarnation is the frequent use of the Line 6 Distortion Modeler pedal, which Connor found stored away in some of his Dad's music stuff and used without asking permission, thus demonstrating the band's commitment to both continued evolution and defiant teenagedom. Finally, vocal stacking is taken to new heights. Numerous chorus vocals are doubled, and the last minute of the epic "Bob The Slob" contains no less than ten vocal tracks.
Songs whose melodies will stick in your head for good: co-vocalist Hunter's vegetarian-inspired "Tofu" (from the one person in our house, ironically, who has never actually journeyed into the meatless world) and "Block of Wood With A Staple In It." Both tracks are sure to lodge themselves in your head where they'll remain whether you want them to or not (and I mean that in a totally good way).
If the album is missing anything in the opinion of this humble and unbiased reviewer, it would be frequent, heartfelt references to how awesome their parents are and how they need to make sure to listen to everything they tell them, including but not limited to bringing down from the rec room all glasses and dishes they take up there during recording. Growing edges for sure - but no artist ever truly arrives. Always room for improvement.
In summary, Sparkling Fudge will put a smile on your face and a pep in your step . And yes, their mother and I are pretty darn proud. Stream and download below at no cost. Enjoy!