During the chorus of “Bricks To The Bones,” there exists an awkward moment of nostalgia. As the members of this Brooklyn trio belt out its chorus, “home/ your love is home/ from the bricks to the bones/ your love is all that surrounds me,” it’s tough not to be transported back to a time when indie music was lauded for yelps and floor toms rather than wobbles and smooth flows. Anchored by a wall of delay and reverb, the sprawling third track on Suckers’ latest LP, Candy Salad, is eerily reminiscent of Animal Collective in 2009, and their transcendent jam, “My Girls.” In both of these of these songs there seems to be a similar ethos. It’s an ethos that, if one adheres to, can yield a life devoid of materiality and the day-to-day grind. In this utopia, life is distilled down to its core — ostensibly into a vacuum in which a love reciprocated is all a person should need in order to achieve ultimate happiness.
Unfortunately for Suckers, that primal connection has been subverted by the cold, technological reality of the 21st century. Lone gone are Animal Collective’s idyllic “adobe slats” and Sucker’s personified love, as they’ve been usurped by The Weeknd’s smoky dalliances and Odd Future’s hedonism. Is it possible that our throwaway culture has perpetuated a distinct lack of yearning for unadulterated joy? Unfortunately, especially when considering the current landscape of “indie” music, the answer to that question is an unequivocal yes.
To be honest, it’s nearly impossible to listen to this album and not cringe while thinking about what it could’ve been. Candy Salad, the second album by perpetual buzz-band Suckers, is ripe with hooks, howling gang vocals, and floor tom led breakdowns. Here, in no way is execution to blame. What ultimately dooms this album is an aspect of being a professional musician that is often taken for granted, is impossible to track, yet is all too important — especially in today’s post-modern deluge of what signifies being hip — and that aspect is timing. The synth swells and tribal drums that populate the majority of these ten songs are perfectly suited for the summer of 2009, where Merriweather Post Pavilion was king. If it’s possible to create something completely original only a mere three years removed from a niche genre’s heyday and have it come off as dated, unfortunately, Candy Salad has to take the proverbial cake.
Ill-fated timing aside, this three piece is nothing if not proficient in their craft. Songs like “Bricks To The Bones” and “Chinese Braille” reverberate a similar instrumentation as some of their more fortunate contemporaries — open-air choruses populated by innocuous, repetitive lyrics and booming major chords. The twinkling guitars and synths of “Leave The Light On” float tranquilly above waves of oscillating synths – the perfect build-up for lead singer Quinn Walker’s creepily reassuring lines, “sneak into your room/ without a sound/ you can feel my hands when I’m not around,” delivered with a quirky vocal pitch-shift reminiscent of Avey Tare on Animal Collective’s “#1.”
Ultimately, though, it’s tough to differentiate between the languid grooves of these ten aesthetically similar tracks; a trait that leaves the album to come off as one mediocre breath of creativity as opposed to a potentially great batch of indie rock songs. Suckers attempt to be endearingly anthemic, but end up coming off as a group of bearded dudes pandering to the newly uninterested masses. This album will make for a perfectly amicable spring soundtrack, but in terms of a long-term shelf life it’s be hard to imagine Candy Salad making it through the sweat and debauchery of the summer festival circuit in one relevant piece.
Plugging away since 1999, The National finally hit mainstream success with the release of their 2010 album High Violet. Of course, this entailed their first world tour, but in the new documentary Mistaken For Strangers, it’s only the backdrop for the relationship between lead singer Matt Berninger and his younger brother Tom, who had no idea that these short videos he was shooting would turn into a public document of their troubled, if still loving brotherhood.
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