The People Are HomeRecess Records
By Johnny Heartbreaker
When I received the new album of a band who called themselves The Underground Railroad To Candyland, I have to confess that I didn’t initially hold out much hope for my writing any kind of review which would do the band’s music justice. Not least as the name immediately conjured up an image of Scotland’s seminal punk duo Jesus and the Mary Chain, merrily rampaging around in a Taratinoesque ‘From Dawn To Dusk’ sequel.
However, after having listened to the album a few times now I also have to confess that the majority of the thirteen tracks on “The People Are Home”, enthusiastically remove themselves from that image quite quickly; and take us instead on a quite delightful auditory journey encompassing the sounds, pop sensibilities and sardonic humour and wit of early Wire, Subway Sect, TV Personalities, Pulp and Sultans Of Ping FC (listen closely and you’ll even hear the faintest echoes of The Velvet Underground undulating beneath the surface).
Confusingly, this journey is brought to a bone shuddering halt with the completely out of place instrumental, “Baby Makes WW3”. Quite why the band decided to include it at the half-way mark (or at all) only they will know. Sadly though it marks the point where the album begins to lose some of its natural swagger and sway, and begins instead to become just a little disjointed; and, where the albums opening five tracks “Dead Leg”, “The Grown Ups Will Have Their Say”, “Yer Not The Only One”, “In Case You Dunno” and “Let’s Go! Take It Slow!” flow in and out of one another effortlessly and rather seamlessly and make perfect musical sense, with the best will in the world “Baby Makes WW3” doesn’t. Instead simply feeling like an uninvited and unwanted guest.
But the band quickly rally around again though through tracks seven to ten, “Diamond Ring”, “Worried”, “This Is A Blind Date!” and “And Now…”, and the unsettling intrusion that was “Baby Makes WW3” is just as quickly forgotten. Until tracks eleven and twelve, “Omstro” and “You Don’t Like The Summer” come along. For the second time on the same album our auditory journey is brought to a bone shuddering halt by an instrumental (the former), and by what can only best be described charitably as the albums weakest moment – and rather more uncharitably as a simple album filler (the latter).
(However, in its defence, “Omstro” would have been far better placed as the opening track to “The People Are Home”. If an instrumental had to be actually included in the first place).
Final track, “Th Ppl R Hm”, heralds a return to the albums earlier rhythmic equilibrium, though it almost comes and goes unnoticed, slightly shell shocked and dazed as we still are: which is a shame as, in more normal circumstances, it would be the perfect ending to any journey, auditory or otherwise and one that any band could be proud of.
“The People Are Home” then is without doubt an album of two extremely conflicting and confusing musical half’s. Yet the majority of it is also inarguably an absolute joy and delight to listen to at the same time. A dichotomy that, contrary to popular logic or wisdom, is not always so easy to understand or easily explained away.
Ultimately though, and despite its few troublesome moments, The Underground Railroad To Candyland have released an album which is simply jam packed with musical treats, luxuries and wonderful discoveries.
With its incessant and highly infectious skipping drum beats, catchy treble orientated pop bass runs, chugging twanging stripped back guitar rhythms and sad angst ridden yet dreamily ever hopeful vocals then, “The People Are Home” thoroughly deserves and has earned its place in the sun – and serves as a timely reminder that great music, despite all our occasional protestations to the contrary, is still to be found out there in candyland.