Still relishing the likes of the mid-'90s wave of third wave ska/swing revival, Oregon's Cherry Poppin' Daddies don't disregard the heavy post-bop sound that made them an MTV household name in 1997 with Zoot Suit Riot. It was fashionable and sassy, and Cherry Poppin' Daddies were a part of that bursting new swing scene (Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, Royal Crown Revue, Mighty Blue Kings) that made the pop kids want to dance. Three years on, the band polished their brassy rock & roll on their fifth album Soul Caddy to make for a sharp set of standards, musically and professionally.
Soul Caddy mixes hard rock elements with streaks of punk and dance-pop. Textures are layered, yet smooth in structure for Cherry Poppin' Daddies' witty and smart lyricism are more apparent than on their previous records. Songs such as "Diamond Light Boogie" boast glam stylings and sassy songwriting from frontman Steve Perry. The sexual overtones are humorous and practically expected, but they are also part of the band's musical excitement. "God Is a Spider" is lumpish with a strong horn section, thumping guitar licks, and the band can only get crazier in attempting to make for a wider array of sounds. Delving into jaunty British punk, "Stay, Don't Just Stay (If You're Gonna)" plays around with Jam aesthetics, whereas "Grand Mal" is a dark indie rock track so alluring, it makes for the most enjoyable cut on the album. It's a lush pop song, frolicking with little boy dreams and apprehensions, and that is certainly refreshing coming from a band who was assumed to be generic retro swing. Cherry Poppin' Daddies indicate that they're not all fun and games when it comes to being musical individualists. But alas, they do stay true to one sound that made them so popular ("So Long Toots," "Swingin' With Tiger Woods [The Big Swing]). Soul Caddy is flat out fun and there's no way around that. The musical redefinitions taken on by Cherry Poppin' Daddies seem to be creatively suiting, and for the listeners who take time to believe in it, Soul Caddy will be impressively surprising.