Candy Salad

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Brooklyn art pop quartet Suckers exploded into critical renown with their untamed 2010 debut, Wild Smile. That record bore similarities to contemporaries of the band like MGMT and Yeasayer, as well as including some pretty discernable lines to the prototypical art-damaged funk of Talking Heads and Modest Mouse's wobbly guitar lines. Follow-up LP Candy Salad loses a lot of the "art" prefixes that were pinned onto Wild Smile, trading up in production values but ultimately losing some of the energy that the album got by on. While every bit as melodically charged and seemingly boisterous, the songs are somehow less catchy than their sprawling predecessors. MGMT producer Matt Boynton dials in a fully realized scope of production, adding gloss and precision to Suckers' sound and helping to distance them from their weirder past moments. "Charmaine" throws a busy synth-drum pattern at Prince-like guitar leads and slowly burning dynamics that culminate in a throaty wail on the chorus from singer Quinn Walker. All the elements for a full-on anthem are in place, but somehow the song fails to ever fully get off the ground. This is true of a good percentage of the album. Promising starts on tracks like "Turn on the Sunshine" and "Chinese Braille" suggest a series of hooks and fastball-style switchups, but both stall before any of their different elements congeal. Concurrently, album opener "Going Nowhere" jumps headfirst into dazzlingly catchy dual vocal harmonies and a drivingly catchy bassline. The song breaks down with a digitally manipulated guitar solo, upping the weirdness quotient, and injecting a little bit of the art rockery that characterized Wild Smile. Overall, the straighter approach just means the songs end up taking longer to really sink in. The accelerated move toward a more mature sound is a strange move for a band so reliant on experimentation, but looking at Candy Salad without the context of their former work, Suckers have turned in a respectable album of big sounds and strong melodies. Only every once in a while do the sounds therein tend to be so normal that they become ignorable.

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