Album Review: Hard-Boiled by Candy Ambulance

TROY — With Candy Ambulance’s latest release, Hard-Boiled, listeners get the chance to hear the band in new and exciting ways. While there are several elements, both in production and songwriting, that are reminiscent of past works from the band, there’s definitely a marked change in sonic direction.

The album opener, “Blue,” features a bass intro that is soon mimicked by the guitar. Though the music is not overly difficult, the haunting guitar overdubs that come in and out of the mix throughout the course of the song show a sense of meticulous song arrangement. Often, the chromaticism of these overdubs, combined with the guitar effects used, makes the song perfectly eerie and ear-grabbing.

“Bulldog” (track two), is a great pop song that doesn’t lose any of the punch that Candy Ambulance brings to the table. Hosting arguably my favorite bass line to date from Jesse Bolduc, this song grooves in a great way. The modulation on the final chorus lifts the song to an even higher place at just the right time. What I really liked about this record, as I mentioned previously, are the new genres that creep into the album.

Photo by Kiki Vassilakis

For example, “Better” (track three), is a morose tune that doesn’t rely on any brash guitars, slamming drums or overdriven bass lines. It is raw as hell, as Caitlin Barker sings about lyrical content that shows an unabashed sense of emotional honesty. Also worth noting is the energy of this song is far lower than the band’s other works; nevertheless, the band pulls it off really well.

Hard-Boiled features the band feeling free to explore the concept of song structure. This is perhaps most prevalent on track four, “Horses.” With a rollicking drum intro featuring rolls played tastefully by Jon Cantiello, the song glides along with that single-coil guitar snarl for which this album uses a lot of, and uses well. During what feels like a pre-chorus — maybe a bridge or alternate verse — the drums drop out. The band comes in and goes out at peculiar, attention-grabbing times. What I really liked about this tune is how it ends; initially, during the last choruses, the guitar drops out, leaving just the vocals, bass and drums. Then, the bass drops, followed by the drums, leaving the last line a cappella. A very fine tune, indeed!

“Jim” (track five), has a similar instrumentational push and pull, and serves as a great follow-up to “Horses.”

Photo by Kiki Vassilakis

Closing off the album is “Bigger.” The entire band starts off full throttle, as the cymbal crashes and bass hits wonderfully accentuate parts of the chorus. A nice, clean and lilting guitar overdubs fill the background. Later, a fuzz guitar that enters the equation is blended perfectly. The end of the song features a chorus that is half-repeated. What I really enjoyed about this closer is the extremely tender and heartfelt line that ends the album: “I wasn’t looking for anything when everything found me.”

Photo by Kiki Vassilakis

Throughout the record, you are able to hear ambient noises in the background, which only goes to tie the effort together that much more. A truly fantastic record; it is inspiring to hear Candy Ambulance continuing to grow in its songwriting craft while still managing to be true to its own sound that makes the band so identifiable. From this listener’s standpoint, Hard-Boiled is poised well to appeal to fans new and old alike. You can listen to the album now by following the link below.

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