Somewhere, a quarter of a century back in history, lie the Crash Test Dummies. You may or may not remember the singer’s deep baritone from the hit Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm. If not, there’s a little slice of Canadian pop history that you should probably acquaint yourself with.
As it should be, the title track and final single God Shuffled His Feet comes first. It’s a great pop-rock song, with sweet bass work and a strong performance from the backing singers.
It’s immediately apparent from the track titles, and even the name of the band, that Crash Test Dummies have a slightly wicked sense of humour. Second UK single Afternoons and Coffeespoons talks of the steady march towards old age, with a bit of a wry smile. If you don’t get all the references (those of us outside Canada probably don’t), you can still enjoy a fun pop-rock song.
Then it’s the turn of the opening single, Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm, which appears to be something about miracle faith healers. Whatever the content, it’s another great pop song, and peaked at number two in the UK, hitting the top spot in various countries.
You could perhaps criticise Crash Test Dummies somewhat though, as Brad Roberts has an extremely distinctive voice, which he could easily use to debunk the common trend that always seems to exist in pop music that male singers can only use higher registers. He has, but he seems to have intentionally brought his delivery another octave or so lower, which can make them a bit of a novelty. It’s not too surprising really that their global hits barely lasted beyond this one album.
It’s generally a good album, though – In the Days of the Caveman, and Swimming in Your Ocean are both strong songs in the vein of those two or three hit singles. It’s not until Here I Stand Before Me that the quality really drops – how nobody could have spotted that this is essentially a bizarre medley of Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm and Afternoons and Coffeespoons is difficult to fathom.
Things do start to look up at the beginning of the second half though – I Think I’ll Disappear Now is good, but you do have to fight the feeling that you’ve heard this all before by this stage. But then there’s some weird production on How Does a Duck Know?, as it features some very uncomfortable panning and mixing – so much so, in fact, that it’s pretty much impossible to notice whether the lyrics are as witty as the title suggests. Honestly, this track is a total mess.
After that, you’ll probably find yourself wanting to turn the whole thing off, but with a bit of effort – When I Go Out with Artists, The Psychic, and Two Knights and Maidens, and the untitled final track are all a bit forgettable, to be honest. It’s strange really – this album starts so promisingly, but somewhere, about half way through, it just stops delivering. But it’s worth having for those couple of good songs. Crash Test Dummies may have been just a two or three-hit wonder for most of the world, but it wasn’t too bad while it lasted.
You can still find God Shuffled His Feet from all major retailers.