Review: New Reel Big Fish album has a 'Sour Patch quality'

Huntington Beach ska rockers Reel Big Fish have swum back into the music scene with their latest release, "Candy Coated Fury."

The band's first album of original music since 2007's "Monkeys for Nothin' and the Chimps for Free," "Candy Coated Fury" — due out July 31 — is everything a Reel Big Fish fan would expect. It's vulgar, sarcastic and still somewhat charming. It's what Ryland Steen (drums), in a recent interview with the Independent, described as a "Sour Patch quality."

While it is a great comeback album due to a familiar sound, that same factor makes it off-putting. Unfortunately, many of the songs sound alike, so it may be hard for new listeners to catch on. On the other end, it's just what Reel Big Fish fans would want to hear from the band.

One of the most standout tracks is "I Know You Too Well to Like You Anymore," featuring Julie Stoyer of the band Dick and Jane. The song is bittersweet, and tells the story of love gone wrong. Still, even with such a somber undertone, it is still one of the catchiest on the album. It also plays into the humor that is present in most of Reel Big Fish's songs. Throughout the track, Stoyer and Aaron Barrett (vocals) bicker back and forth, as well as poke fun at each other.

"She's Not the End of the World" includes Barrett complaining after a bad breakup, seeming to ask friends for advice. In contrast, "Your Girlfriend Sucks" is about a group of friends telling one of their friends why his girlfriend is less than likable.

While many Reel Big Fish songs seem to focus on self-deprecation and humility, songs like "I Dare You to Break My Heart" and "Everyone Else is an A**hole" have an empowering quality that are rarely heard in Reel Big Fish tracks. While these songs are refreshing, the self-deprecating songs are still warmly welcomed and expected by fans.

Also anticipated are cover songs. In the past, Reel Big Fish have recorded versions of A-Ha's "Take on Me" andDuran Duran's"Hungry Like the Wolf," both of which are popular among fans.

For "Candy Coated Fury," the band covered the Wonder Stuff's "Don't Let Me Down Gently" and When inRome's"The Promise." "Don't Let Me Down Gently" is sure to ignite skank-dancing pits at shows, but unfortunately, "The Promise" falls flat, as it is almost too slowed down and can become boring after a few listens.

Overall, "Candy Coated Fury" is a familiar and sweet taste of what Reel Big Fish fans have been waiting for. However, it is also this repeated sound that makes it blend in with the band's older albums.

Reel Big Fish will conclude its nationwide Summer of Ska tour with a record release show on Saturday at the City National Grove of Anaheim. Also performing are fellow Huntington Beach ska band Suburban Legends, along with Big D and the Kids Table, and the Maxies.

Twitter: @hbindependent

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