Reviews Underground Railroad To Candyland Knows Your Sins

Underground Railroad To Candyland

Knows Your Sins

Considering that Underground Railroad to Candyland was formed, in large part, to be a party band, and combining that with the So. Cal. sun that’s been beating down on Todd Congelliere for all these years, it somehow makes sense that URTC has a number of surf elements bubbling through the surface on the band’s sophomore record. Still, surf is only one piece of the band’s overall sound. Drawing from pop punk and the jangly guitars of indie rock, URTC create a bouncy, singalong slice of bubblegum that is unique amongst its peers.

The obvious move is to compare URTC to Toys That Kill, seeing that they share multiple members. Congelliere’s unique songwriting, lyrical sensibilities, and voice are a clear parallel between the bands, but URTC displays very few overt punk influences; instead playing on peppy, poppy numbers that keep moving without the aggression or volume associated with punk. The band plays fun music that tends to find a simple hook and stick with it from start to finish instead of building melodies through chord progressions and time changes. Most of the songs are written with a simplicity in mind so the touring band can perform with a wide cast of members. The goal of each song is to create a smile, not to re-invent any aural experience.

And Knows Your Sins succeeds.

Most of the record follows a verse chorus verse, two-minute-and-change formula that keeps the feet tapping and the energy flowing without surprises. The lyrics range from unintelligible to goofy, and the soundbytes that set the tone are equally off-kilter. Perhaps the most obvious example comes in the form of the instrumental surf track, “Run! Chicken! Run!” A pre-release interview revealed the song to be about being attacked by giant chickens. Regardless, the track is 1:51 of surf music with guitar bits every few measures to imitate a chicken’s squawk. It’s part nonsense and part brilliance, and it exemplifies the album’s energy and tone perfectly. The record has other surf-tinged songs as well, primarily instrumental, adding to the party ambiance. “2010” which has a bit of a spaced out Repo Man feel to it. Meanwhile, songs like “Jimmy V”, “My Number’s on the Stall”, “And You Think You Can Tame Me” are more indicative of the band’s melodic sensibilities, with bouncing choruses and backing vocals that fill them out, all carrying a similar tone to Congelliere’s other projects, but with a tamer, calmer approach more suited to playing volleyball and barbequing on the beach than for drinking PBRs in a dank basement. As compared with their debut Bird Roughs, the multiple recording sessions have paid off with a more consistent feel indicative of the live act, but also standing on its own as a studio record.

7.2 / 10Loren
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Recess

2011

7.2 / 10

7.2 / 10

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