Taking on the Enemy's Sound

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Though part of the same London underground scene as Tram (the two groups share a common member in bass player Ian Painter), Candidate is a more stripped-down post-post-Britpop affair than the aforementioned, relying more on gently strummed acoustics than sweeping atmospheres to get its point across. Taking on the Enemy, Candidate's all-too-brief (at 34 minutes) debut, is full of gentle, dark soundscapes and melancholic moody vocals with just the right amount of murky atmosphere and country twang, fleshed out, as it were, with guitars, percussion, keyboards, banjos, and horns. Singer Joel Morris isn't quite the vocalist that American singer/songwriters like Smog's Bill Callahan or ex-American Music Club main man Mark Eitzel are, even though he comes across as a bit warmer (though no less vulnerable) than both. Highlights here include "Play Something," "Stay Outside," "The Great American Starving Band," and "Swim Home," a song that ironically name-checks a pretty good saloon singer from Hoboken ("Look at me, I'm Frank Sinatra").

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