Fred Stein’s Pizza & Ice Cream album unbearable for a mature audience

There is a time in every man’s life when he has to realize he is not a child anymore. Apparently, Jersey musician Fred Stein did not receive that memo, as evident on his album, Pizza & Ice Cream. If you didn’t get the message from the title, this album is a lighthearted take on the long stale pop rock genre. In fact, Stein aims to “bring fun and ideas into pop rock music.” A legitimate goal, yes, but the way in which Stein tries to exact it is unsuccessful, and in an unfortunately large amount of cases, painful.

The album opens with “At the Mall,” a song about the joys of attending a mall. Right from the beginning of this track it was clear that this was not going to be an easy album to sit through. The happy-go-lucky guitar was so much more unnecessarily happy than it needed to be that the song soon became impossible to listen to. Also, the incessant cowbell became very annoying very fast, making the song one I won’t be willing to listen to any time soon. The thing that turned me off most of all, however, was the vocals.

Rhymes like “This is where life never ends/ This is where I meet my friends” did not give a good foreboding for the rest of the album. The lyrics in “At the Mall” and all other tracks on the album are almost entirely composed of childish, silly rhymes probably thought of in haste. I know Stein is trying to be more playful and lighthearted with this release, but lines like “There are too many people looking for a parking space/ There are too many people feeling out of place” (from the song “Too Many People”) show a blatant lack of time put into the songwriting for this album. Also, at times, Stein sounds like he’s singing out of key or like he’s not putting any effort into the vocals.

Be forewarned– if for some reason you decide to pick up this album, prepare to get covered in cheese. And when I say covered, I mean absolutely drenched to the point where one hundred percent of your body is lined with thick yellow goo. If the previous tidbits of lyrics taken from some of the songs don’t give it away, the songs are extremely tacky and cheesy, and not the good kind of cheesy that comes from embarrassing old-school rap artists.  It’s the kind of cheesy that makes you pinch the area between your eyes and wonder what goes on in some people’s heads. Accompanying the vocals in overzealousness are the instruments, which are sometimes so over the top it becomes nonsense. Soaring guitars reminiscent of lame southern dudes soloing over the national anthem are prevalent in many of the songs, often at completely inopportune moments. Other times, the guitar, as mentioned before, sounds so excited and happy that it takes away any value the song might have had. And don’t get me started on the cowbell…

It really saddens me that this music is unbearable to listen to because it seems like Stein put a lot of heart and soul into his music. The overall tone of his songs bring an image of a man who wants to remain a child forever, eating ice cream with his friends and playing with toy cars. With this in mind, Pizza & Ice Cream may be more enjoyable for the younger crowd with its upbeat attitude and silly songs. Anyone older than ten will probably stop listening to this album immediately. Stein’s message is on the right track, because the modern music industry needs an artist with a lighthearted attitude to transcend the little pleasures of life into pleasurable songs, but his execution is very flawed.

If your idea of fun is listening to music with depth and lasting value, avoid this album. However, if you enjoy hopping around on a moon bounce and reading pop-up books, Pizza & Ice Cream may be right up your alley.