First off, dude sounds like the long-lost lovechild of Queen’s Freddie Mercury and T. Rex frontman Marc Bolan, a pair who in a perfect world would have made a great Rock & Roll gay couple, no doubt. In any case, a successful fusion of the Mercury-Bolan big-ego DNA could only have created a mutant MercuRex musician so ferociously pompous in his stylistic grandiosity as Mr. Ferree, whose overly verbose songs are pretty catchy despite their penchant for being over-the-top.
The surprisingly upbeat Come Back to the Five and Dime Bobby Dee Bobby Dee is supposed to be a concept album (a.k.a.
Rock opera, let’s face it) about ill-fated child actor Bobby Driscoll. He portrayed Peter Pan in 1953’s Disney flick and ended up destitute in NYC, dying at 31 from malnourishment or a heroin overdose or a massive scabies infestation. Yeah, you know, that guy! Well, as it goes with most concept albums, you’re better off just ignoring the overbearing lyrical/thematic nonsense and focusing on the songs.
Come Back has some good stuff happening, particularly up front. The first half is loaded with vocal harmonies and certain musical passages that recall, well, Queen and T. Rex, but a Queen and T. Rex who’ve been hanging out with Neutral Milk Hotel. But before that sucky Jeff Magnum guy can defeat Freddie and Marcy with his obnoxious caterwaul, they kick his ass, toss him out of the studio and let his musicians stay instead. In short, Ferree knows how to blend ’70s stadium Rock and Glam hooks with noisy ’90s Indie Pop, thus whipping up a palatable concoction for the hep kids of today.
The end result isn’t original, but it is undeniably infectious. Another band operating in a similar vein with a less extravagant angle is a little group out of Chicago called The M’s. Check them out first. Grade: B-