CHUBBED UP - Review

Bill's Music Forum
October 3, 2008

This 2008 release by The Bigfellas is one of the most interesting records I have heard in a long time. Full of tongue-in-cheek satire, playful lyrics and melodies, and a sophisticated sense of music to suit the topic, The Bigfellas are an intellectual pop fan's dream. These guys are the MAD magazine of modern pop - a bunch of "What Me Worry" Alfred E. Newmans on the stage.

Not many will pick up on the subtle jabs in the lyrics or "samples" in the music first time around, so the record demands repeated listens. For example, catch the switch to U2's "Bullet the Blue Sky" in the coda of "California King", which happens to be one of the most accessible and catchy numbers on the record. And then there is the seemingly goofy rap song called "On The Green" which is based on the 70s hit "Love's Theme" by Love Unlimited Orchestra. Not a favorite, but the juxtaposition of gangsta rap with the hard knocks life of golf is hilarious. The band takes similar satirical risks with "I Wish That I Were Gay". But we're all about the hooks and melodies here; while there are plenty of such moments scattered throughout "Chubbed Up", few of songs sustain them for the entirety of their rather lengthy duration. In addition to "California King", "Dollar For Every Dime" and "Adam and Eve and Red and Alice" hold up very well for repeated listens. The more serious ballad, "Wish You Knew" is unexpectedly moving and a definite highlight. Fans of ELO's "Mr. Blue Sky" may be interested in the banjo-driven cover, included as a bonus track on "Chubbed Up".

There is a very strong Ben Folds vibe here, both in the 'everyday kind of guy' tone of the singer's voice and the fact that most of the tunes are based around catchy piano riffs. Many others have already noted the comparison to Randy Newman as well. The Bigfellas have been voted "Best Local Band In San Diego" for 2006 and 2007. In the areas of novelty, musicianship, and satire, The Bigfellas don't come up short.