Even with the best of Ron Gallo’s intentions, an album of messages can eventually grow a little tiring. Through hard and classic rock bases, Gallo spreads a message of self-healing and acceptance but lands so bluntly it rarely feels revolutionary. Gallo focuses on a fun sound however to make his record one that entertains even if it can feel a little in your face.
Gallo’s sense of musical majesty and his humorous overtones play out in equal effect on “Who Are You Point To It!” as he starts the record on a kind of confusing intro that is more experimental than strictly musical. This is what makes the abrasive rock of “Always Elsewhere” feel much more appropriate, as he enhances his message of mental disparity through a frantic sound. Even as he rips out on a blunt statement of his life ethos, it feels much more excitingly executed and intense. In this way “Prison Décor” reflects a more absurd side of Gallo’s views on society, as he brings classic rock and art-rock riffing to a song about dressing up some of the lowest places you can be in life.
So much of Gallo’s work here tends to riff of older hard-rock attitudes that it can be hard to feel like it redefines it all enough. Though “Party Tumour” tries to counteract this with outlandish vocals and stories, it can come off a little too derivative nonetheless. “Do You Love Your Company” at least infuses the music with this attitude, and lets the song become this kind of bubbling theatrical explosion. By ramping up and letting the frantic thoughts behind the song take control more, this track is a lot more eccentric and fun. There’s a much more divisive approach to “You Are The Problem” as Gallo tries to truly enlighten people about their own issues and make a song that flows like a roller coaster in terms of dynamics.
By “OM,” Gallo’s attitude of preaching can feel like just that unfortunately, and ultimately starts to make some of the record feel a little annoying as a result. While he tries to take a much broader approach on a track like “It’s All Gonna Be Ok” the track alternates far too much between generic rock and inherently abrasive riffs to work. While this track could actually be really fun live, it’s just a little too lop-sided on record. “I Wanna Die (Before I Die)” takes a lot of unusual left turns in its strangely electronic sounding dives and a somewhat retro energy that makes it a great listen.
Overt messages aside, “Love Supreme (Work Together)” is so funky and weird in its tones that it’s hard not to love. Between James Brown and Talking Heads, this track finds a wonderfully new tone to play with that only the likes of Beck have touched on since the early 2000s. Such hopeful and extensive tracks like “Bridge Crossers” really overshadow the likes of “The Password” as it brings a Beatles level of complexity to the record against something that feels more like an experiment. In this way, “Happy Deathday” falls in between by quirking up a folk drive with some more absurdity for something strange but not altogether that unique.
Words by Owen Maxwell