In the world of music we are well accustomed to hearing claims around the time of new album releases of how all our favourite bands have ‘grown up’, ‘matured’ and many other similarly themed adjectives – the warning shot to tell us that however much we loved the earlier albums, the new one marks a turning point and a new direction. Sometimes this works out for the best and we can usher in a new variation of a well loved sound, building on it and making it even better. Other days we are left with a sound missing everything we loved and a search for a new band to fill the void left behind.
All of this is really pretty irrelevant today though, as rather than attempting to field something new, Reel Big Fish have done the complete opposite with Candy Coated Fury. Ignoring the intervening sixteen years they have made a dash straight back to the early days of the band to capture the same feeling we heard in 1995’s Everything Sucks and 1996’s Turn The Radio Off.
While this may in many ways be an equally risky manoeuvre ending with a stodgy album lacking the energy or feel of a younger band, with Candy Coated Fury Reel Big Fish have managed to pull it off spectacularly, creating an album of music overflowing with the sort of relentless bouncy energy (the same energy that gained them the title of ‘most fun gig I have ever been to’) and with a now somewhat trademark dose of sarcasm, self loathing and often hate fuelled lyrics that takes on a bizarre yet brilliant tone when mixed with such an upbeat and high octane backing.
The fact that Candy Coated Fury has been written sixteen years after Turn The Radio Off could for many bands be a signal for a gulf in songwriting style and content, but in the case of Reel Big Fish it has really shown through more in the high quality of the writing and the extra polish the album has in tone and finish. A song like I Know You Too Well to Like You Any More could almost be a sequel to Turn The Radio Off’s She Has A Girlfriend Now in terms of the vocals and style, even if they do feature somewhat divergent topics. Similarly tracks like album opener Everyone Else Is An Asshole or P.S. I Hate You sound almost instantly familiar. The biggest difference in style comes in the track Hiding In My Headphones, which features vocals from Coolie Ranx and members of Sonic Boom Six. They mix in their own trademark styles with Reel Big Fish’s, creating a great crossover for those familiar with both bands (and if you are not familiar with Sonic Boom Six, I would highly recommend you give them a listen if you like Reel Big Fish enough to have read this far…). It works perfectly as a break from the pure Reel Big Fish sound before the second half of the album, without sounding out of place.
Overall, Candy Coated Fury is a fantastic album that manages to do exactly what it sets out to, and makes for a fast paced romp though Reel Big Fish’s classic blend of ska and punk rock that will keep fans of old happy, and hopefully snare in a few new ones along the way.
Candy Coated Fury by Reel Big Fish is out now from all the usual sources.