Record Label: Rock Ridge Records
Genre: Ska Punk
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Enter the time warp. Travel with me back to 1996. Dorky high school kid coming into his own discovers a handful of albums that changes his taste in music and his life in general. One said album just happened to be “Turn The Radio Off” by Reel Big Fish. This album still stands as a personal favorite and made this dorky high school kid a fan for life.
Now RBF has released some great albums since way back then, they’ve put forth some kick ass covers and, arguably have grown as a band and undoubtedly expanded their musical horizons far outside of the ska punk niche…but the ska punk, in my mind, is their bread and butter. They are the epitome of the third wave sound. Not since the height of the third wave has RBF put forth such a straight-forward ska/punk effort…and for that I am eternally grateful!!!
“Candy Coated Fury” kicks the skankfest off with a hypersonic ska punk ditty aptly titled “Everyone Else Is An Asshole”. The tone for the rest of the album is pretty much setup for that snarky self-deprecating kind of humor that we have grown to love from the band. The album then follows suit with a classic-sounding RBF song about someone that they hate titled “Punisher”…no relation to Frank Castle. One thing to note in this song is the addition of a saxophone player to the band for the first time in almost twenty years. The sax adds a whole other dimension to the RBF sound.
The next couple of songs throw us an awesome sing-a-long song, a lesser known cover song that RBF manages to make their own and is very reminiscent sounding to “A Little Doubt Goes A Long Way” and a very fun duet song complete with female vocals. All of this leads up to one of my favorite tracks on the album “Hiding In My Headphones”. This reggae song is heavy on the horns, high on the groove and not only features Laila and Barney Boom from Sonic Boom Six doing guest vocals, but also features the return of Coolie Ranx guesting on a Reel Big Fish album! “Song #3 revisited! You don’t get more classic RBF than that!
How many times do you get to the halfway point in an album only to have the last half fade and fizzle into oblivion? Well my friend, it ain’t happening here. There is no stop to the “Candy Coated Fury”! “I Dare You To Break My Heart” sounds like something from the “Cheer Up” era while “Your Girlfriend Sucks” might have been an unreleased song from “Turn The Radio Off” and “Don’t Stop Skankin’” is one of the best instrumentals I’ve heard since “241” and I hate instrumentals. “Don’t Stop Skankin’” is also a perfect example of allowing the saxophone to shine and I also quite enjoyed the tributes to Ritchie Valens and the Specials towards the end of the song.
The final third of the album is just as epic and entertaining as the other two parts. Another favorite of mine is the slower ska song “Famous Last Words”. The song is somewhat of a Reel Big Fish tongue-in-cheek tribute to themselves. It throws out lyrics that vaguely reference some of RBF’s older material in a fleeting, time has passed them by kind of way. “Lost Cause”, “I Love You Suck” and “P.S. I Hate You” are sure to be crowd favorites and skank pit starter-uppers. Closing out “Candy Coated Fury” is a cover of the classic new wave song “The Promise” done in that Reel Big Fish kind of way. The heavily reggae influenced version is a great closer to such a fun and promising album…pun intended.
“Candy Coated Fury” is not only one of my favorite Reel Big Fish albums, but one of the best ska punk albums that I have heard in the past decade. It easily stands on its’ own beside the Bosstones’ “Pin Points & Gin Joints”, the Mad Caddies “Keep It Going” or anything Streetlight. I don’t mean to sound like a fan boy, but when it comes down to it…I am. I’ve been critical of the band in the past, but I’ve kept following them and enjoyed what I’ve heard over the years and I’ll be blunt…”Candy Coated Fury” is some of the best material that that Reel Big Fish has ever done. Whether you’re a fan of the band new or old, this album is a must listen…or multiple listens. You’ll only missing out on the fun if you don’t.
Bottom Line: A fun and energetic ska punk romp through the juvenile minds of men who are way too old to still have juvenile minds.
Notable Tracks: Hiding In My Headphones, The Promise, Don’t Let Me Down Gently, Don’t Stop Skankin’, Famous Last Words, Your Girlfriend Sucks