There are different reactions I have when listening to bands I like. One is when I listen to an album and it makes me wish I was in the band. This is the main feeling I got when listening to Reel Big Fish's seventh studio album, Candy Coated Fury.
Many people remember Reel Big Fish from the brief time in the late nineties when ska was in the spotlight. While most of those bands faded with the coming of the next fad, Reel Big Fish have continued their version of rock/punk/ska for more than a decade, and from even a cursory listen, seem to be having an effing good time doing it. For them it's not a fad, it's something they are clearly committed to.
Each aspect of the band, from the horn section, guitars, and drums, are given detailed specific attention in each song, so on their own are polished and expertly weaved into each other. Most songs have the RBF signature horn vignette in between lines of the verses, the part of the song that causes the involuntary movement of head, shoulders, or toe-tapping, whatever way we awkwardly express enjoyment of a good beat.
Candy Coated Fury is the perfect description for this album; those familiar with Reel Big Fish will recognize their contrast of upbeat lively beats and melodies with self-deprecating and scornful lyrics, which provides a delightfully sarcastic message to the target of the lyrics. This is done best on "P.S. I Hate You," "Everyone Else Is An Asshole," and "Your Girlfriend Sucks."
Reel Big Fish are also known for cover songs, and they include a cover of When In Rome's "The Promise." The basis of a good cover song is to take the original structure of the song and put it in a surprisingly new genre, which they accomplish. The quick-tempoed, new age version is turned into a slow, languid funk version, giving it a darker feel. The addition of a sax solo doesn't hurt either. It's not the standout track of the album, but provides some diversity.
The most experimental track is "Hiding In My Headphones," which includes rap verses, reggaesque beats, which sounds more like a mid-nineties hit from 311. It seems to be half tongue-in-cheek, and the other half earnest, which could very well describe the oeuvre of this band's work.
Reel Big Fish's music is a perfect example of "if it ain't broke, don't fix it." Candy Coated Fury is not a huge departure from their other work, but why is there a need to if the energy, enthusiasm, and songwriting abilities are already working for them? I mean, the Mighty Mighty Bosstones didn't make it this far, did they?