Paper or Plastic?

Use Your Noodle

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Opening with the flirty girl-group concoction "I Don't Care If You've Got a Boyfriend" and the reggae-structured "Beautiful Curtains," at first, it seems as if Use Your Noodle might have some interesting musical directions to lead a listener in. But that is about all the stylistic variation displayed on the album (other than a wonderful marching band intro on the album closer, "So What!"). Instead, it is mostly characterized by an aggressive pop-punk attitude and Dawn Redman's wail, which, frankly, grows tiring over the course of an entire album, often seeming contrived or overly affected. When she restrains herself, as she does about a third of the time, Redman has an seductive, bluesy voice that doesn't require the attempts at soulful grit. The songwriting on the album is uniformly workmanlike, barely rising above unspectacular (though sincere), and nothing really sticks out melodically, other than, perhaps, the slacker anthem "My Couch." There is nothing really even amusing or idiosyncratic about the album, as the clever cover photo promises. In fact, the finest thing about Use Your Noodle is the cover, which depicts Redman and songwriting partner Brent Wagner with spaghetti poured over their heads. The songs could have benefited from something as musically messy. Instead, they pass by without leaving much impression or impressing any hooks to speak of in the ol' noodle.