After American Music Club made their critically lauded return to active duty with 2004's Love Songs for Patriots, the band's revitalization seemed to unwittingly point out how uneven Mark Eitzel's solo work had been, and how badly he needed a strong and consistent set of collaborators to bring out the best in his songs -- while he'd made some fine records on his own, he also seemed to lack a firm sense of what to do or where to go, and for every triumph like West there was a misfire such as Music for Courage and Confidence. Candy Ass unfortunately tends to confirm this notion; following in the path of 2001's The Invisible Man, Candy Ass largely finds Eitzel exploring his interest in electronic music, with most of it apparently recorded by the artist all by his lonesome. While The Invisible Man found Eitzel finding a warmth and humanity deep in his masses of loops and samples, Candy Ass sounds considerably colder and less inviting, and the several instrumental cuts on the album are a severe miscalculation -- the man's lyrics have always been his greatest strength, and his work in electronics doesn't carry the same strength as his elemental guitar work, though the harrowing "A Loving Tribute to My City" suggests this may not always be the case. And while "My Pet Rat St Michael" and "Sleeping Beauty" show that Eitzel can still write with a bracing power and emotional force, much of the rest of Candy Ass just doesn't connect. Once upon a time, Mark Eitzel seemed incapable of writing a bad song, and while that doesn't quite happen on Candy Ass, enough of the album comes close enough to suggest this guy needs to hook up with American Music Club again, and soon.
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AllMusic Review by Mark Deming