Reel Big Fish – CANDY COATED FURY
As a ‘saxophonist’, I’m always excited to hear a new Ska release and when I found out that the Ska band of my ‘younger years’ (in fact the first Ska band I ever listened to thanks to my habit of stealing my older brothers’ music) were releasing a new album, well, I got excited; there just isn’t enough Ska in the world! The genre that claims a perfect balance between the ecstatic and the melancholic; it has you hating in a good mood! Yet I find, for once, the Ska forerunners have left my mood anything but.
Cynical, stereotypical, political…Reel Big Fish have done it all. Which probably explains why their first fully-original album ‘Candy Coated Fury’ bores me, and I wonder why they didn’t just go ahead and stick some quirky covers in as usual to make it more appealing to the ear. Opening song ‘Everybody is an A**hole’ reeks of Fish. But not in a good way; something in their perfected list of ingredients has far past it’s sell-by-date, masking the rest of the track’s components in its pong. The same applies to the album in general; the music’s still there, nothing special but ‘fine’, dragged down by disappointing lyrics and melodies that leave one with a unsatisfying taste in the mouth.
As with any album, there are some positives. Track ‘Don’t let me down’ is the perfect example of the more vulnerable, emotive side of RBF, mixed with a charming bounce and sax solo. Yet it still doesn’t have that edge to it, that magical element that made ‘Sell Out’, ‘Don’t Start A Band’, and ‘Everything Sucks’ such memorably sticking tracks. ’I dare you to break my heart’ shows an improvement. But still, the lack of imagination and repeated lyrics get to me – yes it’s a RBF trait, but far too overworked for one album.
‘Hiding in my headphones’ gets closer to their once polished state, and I couldn’t help but smile and bop (damn that funky, reggae-inspired rhythm!). Yet even this became victim to their famous habit; the structure and lyrics are, indeed, repeated till the death. I only fear that the band, through their broken-record repetition, shall also be led to the same fate; by the end I wanted to rip my headphones off!
But, despite the overall effect, I do have a favourite; song of the album? ‘P.S I Hate You’ has something more going for it…
On the whole, Reel Big Fish seem to be running out of steam more and more with every album they make. They sound older – still singing about the same topics of girlfriends and teenagers and high school, using the same limited vocabulary (there’s only so many years you can say ‘suck’ so enthusiastically before it goes stale of emotion). Perhaps this explains why the usual humorous buzz is lacking, and at times it’s more like your Dad armed with a bucket of Christmas cracker jokes. Painful. For now, sadly, I have to say the Ska revival is yet to come. But when it does, I’ll be waiting.