Review Summary: Simply put, Snuggles is just a meditation and de-stressor album. Nothing more, nothing less.
The prospect of Devin Townsend doing another yin-yang-style dual release instantly brought back a flood of memories for me, harkening back to his Deconstruction
projects from back in 2011. But something seemed a bit different this time around. While he marketed The Puzzle
as the “chaos” and Snuggles
as the “calm”, both records actually strike me as two different sides of the same coin - that is to say, The Puzzle
isn’t really that intense or crazy like Deconstruction
was. But seeing as Snuggles
would be the Ghost
in this scenario, how exactly does it approach the new age/ambient format? Well, imagine if you took out the dynamic instrumentation of Ghost
and made the record more homogeneous and formless.
Keep in mind that I mean that in both a (semi-)positive and negative way. Snuggles
is an incredibly relaxing and meditative album, giving off the aural equivalent of lying on a bed of clouds. In fact, unless you listen intently, the record will pass by you without much of an impression at all; each song seeps into the next, as if you’re listening to one 38-minute track. Sure, there are a few notable moments here and there; “The Ocean” is much more fleshed-out with its shifting dynamics and layered vocals, and “Blue Dot” benefits from the small bits of flute and reverb-laden electric guitar it adds to the soundscape. But taken as an entire experience, Snuggles
is very clearly intended to be background music. Most songs are in the exact same key (F), making the songs blend together even more; on top of this, Townsend himself doesn’t really do much vocally other than the aforementioned layering, as well as some mellow crooning to drive home the atmosphere of the record. But again, if you’re in the mood for easy-listening or meditation music, this will at least fit the bill and give you something pleasant while you try and de-stress. And if there’s another thing I’d give Snuggles
credit for, it’s that it does stay devoted to one singular vibe; anyone looking for a record that unapologetically sticks to a soft, ethereal sound will certainly find it here.
So we arrive at a bit of a conundrum: who exactly should I recommend Snuggles
to? If you’re familiar with Townsend’s more low-key work, then you’re already familiar with better albums than this one. Ghost
has much of the same calming atmosphere as this, but with much more varied and explorative songwriting. Casualties of Cool
had its ambient moments, but combined that with slick country and blues influences that gave it a lot of character. And then you have Ocean Machine: Biomech
, which were near-perfect fusions of crushing metal and introspective melodies. But Snuggles
does at least partially stand out, in the sense that any form of conventional songwriting has been removed entirely. So if anything, it’s much closer to albums like Devlab
or The Hummer
, just with a little bit of Ghost
atmosphere thrown in. But I think that will make this a hard sell to many Townsend fans, as his ambient records have never really seen the acclaim that most of his other projects have. And while Snuggles
is a decent enough easy-listening record, the relaxing atmosphere is really all it has going for it; as I stated, there’s not much in the way of varied or compelling songwriting like there was on Ghost
or Casualties of Cool
. Simply put, Snuggles
is just a meditation and de-stressor album; nothing more, nothing less.