Insane Clown Posse finally makes a consistent, great album. It seemed impossible. Carnival of Carnage and The Ringmaster contain pretty much nothing of worth. Even Great Milenko, which produced some fantastic songs failed as an album. They had a great foundation, but somehow for four albums they failed to even comes close to fulfilling the potential.
The reason Jeckel Brothers works is simple. While on Milenko they lifted their strengths to great singles, on Jeckel Brothers they take care of the weaknesses. There are songs here called “Bitches” and “Another Love Song” and they’re both great. That’s because the Clowns are less considered with being dirty and shocking, and more with this whole act of crazy killer clowns. “Bitches” sounds so stoned and out-there it’s hard to get offended by it. Ol’ Dirty Bastard appears in it to inform us that he’s willing to have sex with fat women when he’s smoking weed. This is how overblown this album is.
The theatrical side was always the Clowns’ strength. Whenever they stopped acting like Horrorcore rappers and tried to make a soundtrack to their Dark Carnival thing, they sounded focused and original. There are two interludes dedicated to the title characters, and they both work. Banging beats with carnival sounds, circus announcer vocals and melodic hooks were what made their best songs.
The Clowns translate this new found understanding of their sound to a strong, consistent set of songs. The album’s length also comes from it. They extend it to 17 tracks not to cover up a lack of ideas, but because they have a lot of them. Songs like “Mad Professor” and “I Want My Shit” wouldn’t work in Riddle Box, or even Great Milenko. Here, they’re amusing enough get by despite the underwhelming hooks. When the hooks are there, it’s good as always.
It’s also thanks to moving further to rock-like songs. Clark’s production hasn’t changed much. It operates in the same way as Great Milenko – guitar riffs, carnival sounds and anything else odd that he can get his hands on. The songs no longer sounds like they’re Hip-Hop with guitar noises added. “Play With Me, “Nothing Left” and “Everybody Rize” rely much more on hooks and melodies, and are closer to Crazy Town than anything else. The bolder approach suits them more. It allows them to play up the theatrical aspect, instead of just making bad rap songs full of cuss words.
Only two songs don’t really work, but even then it’s not as bad as before. “The Shaggy Show” and “Fuck the World” are decent ideas, but the former is boring and the latter has a stiff, annoying flow that’s supposed to be angry but is very unconvincing. It’s a waste of a good hook. They’re at least sound like they can improved upon.
“Assassins” deserves a special mention. The last hook descents into mayhem of gunshots, guitar riffs and screaming. It’s a perfect example of when the Clowns’ music really works, even if it’s a cover. Thankfully, Jeckel Brothers wasn’t a one off. Even when their later albums were underwhelming, they still have the same verve and spark they found here. I’d understand anyone not wanting to wade through the crap in their back catalogue, but Jeckel Brother is a unique album that deserves at least one spin. It’s amazing how they went from the dullness of Carnival of Carnage to this.
3.5 jugglers out of 5