After the Dirtbombs took on Detroit techno and wrestled it to a draw on their 2011 album, the band's driving force, Mick Collins, turned his attention to making the bubblegum tribute album he'd been promising for years. Inspired by cartoon bands like the Archies, the faceless bands churned out by the Kasenetz-Katz production line, and weirdo musical experiences like Lancelot Link & the Evolution Revolution, Ooey Gooey Chewy Ka-Blooey! is packed with all the frivolous fun and good times that acts like Ohio Express, the 1910 Fruitgum Company, and Tommy Roe delivered, while retaining all the punch and drive of a typical Dirtbombs LP. Collins and his able crew dive deep into the sha-la-la's, silly sugar-crusted lyrics, singsong melodies, and goofiness of bubblegum, but also make sure to capture the gum-snapping beats and surprisingly soulful underpinnings that drove quite a few songs by the Archies (and others). The Dirtbombs have a light enough touch to get ridiculously frothy and sweet on tracks like the should-be hit singles "Crazy for You" and "Sunshine Girl" and make songs just right for a daycare dance party ("It's Gonna Be Alright," "Sugar on Top"), but also unleash total rock-solid groovers like the cowbell-driven "Jump and Shout" and the very Equals-sounding "Hey! Cookie" that remind you just how tough the band usually sounds. While most of the album takes care to detail the dual sticky/soulful nature of bubblegum, they also take a trip into the middle of the road on the saccharine ballad "Girl on the Carousel," which comes complete with oboe; whip up a baroque pop confection that sounds like a bizarre meltdown of the Beach Boys, Traffic, and the Cowsills on "We Come in the Sunshine"; and overdose on sugary treats for the trippy "No More Rainy Days/Sun Sound Interlude." It's all delivered with a smile and a wink, but Collins' lifelong study of the musical form means he knows his bubblegum and has the skills to blow bubbles that snap and pop just as loud as the originals he's referencing throughout the record. Sure, his slightly more knowing approach means that the songs aren't as gloriously silly as "Yummy Yummy" or "Chewy Chewy," but that's an almost impossible order to fill. As it is, Ooey Gooey Chewy Ka-Blooey! works perfectly well both as a tribute to one of the most underrated musical styles ever, and as an album that's fun from beginning to end, Dirtbombs-style. What's next, Mick?
AllMusic Review by Tim Sendra