Personnel: Aaron Barrett (vocals, guitar); John Christianson (vocals, trumpet); Dan Regan (vocals, trombone); Ryland Steen (vocals, drums, percussion); Derek Gibbs (vocals); Matt Appleton (saxophone, baritone saxophone, organ).
Audio Mixer: David Irish.
Recording information: Music Inc Studios.
For nearly two decades, Reel Big Fish have made a name for themselves with their brand of butt-rock-influenced, hyper-sarcastic third wave ska, shying away from the typical ska-punk touchstones in favor of a sound that captures the bombast and guitar heroics of hair metal. While members have come and gone in the time leading up to Candy Coated Fury, the band's seventh studio album (and first new material in five years), the band still feels like the old familiar Reel Big Fish most ska fans will remember from the mid-'90s. Not a lot has changed musically, and the album feels like it could've easily been the follow-up to Why Do They Rock So Hard?, but with ska being more of a traditionalist's art form, Reel Big Fish make the familiarity work for them. Putting the focus on misanthropic fun, tracks like "Everyone Else Is an Asshole," "She's Not the End of the World," and "I Love/You Suck" deliver some of the meanest fun thanks to their relentlessly upbeat tempos and bouncy rhythms, hiding a derisive sneer behind a wall of gang vocals and effervescent horns. Though folks who are unfamiliar with the band would probably do better to start with classic albums like Turn the Radio Off and Why Do They Rock So Hard?, longtime fans and lapsed ska fanatics will immediately feel transported back to the glory days of the third wave revival, making Candy Coated Fury a welcome reminder that Reel Big Fish are alive, kicking, and still not afraid to take a shot at love gone sour with a smile and a few monstrous riffs. ~ Gregory Heaney