Even if your exposure to Suckers is limited to their self-titled debut EP, or hell, even “It Gets Your Body Movin’,” it doesn’t take much mental gymnastics to know how their sophomore album, Candy Salad sounds (same goes for great 2010 full-length, Wild Smile). Bleary-eyed sing-alongs ready for campfires? Check. Songs that sometimes sound like they’re being sung by the drunkest guys in a bar full of drunks? Check. Shaggy, old school indie rock equally indebted to Modest Mouse and the Talking Heads? Double check. Which isn’t to say Candy Salad isn’t one of this season’s most fun albums, or that there’s something necessarily wrong with sounding over a full-length like a single song from your debut EP. Just know that Suckers sound as advertised. Nothing more, nothing less.
Speaking of more, that’s the marked difference between Wild Smile and Candy Salad. Suckers have gone slightly maximalist, filling out the empty spaces of songs like the building “Chinese Braille,” the impossibly earworm-y “George,” the beautiful “Leave the Light On,” and the barroom ready “Turn on the Sunshine” with barrel piano, horns, vocal effects, “coos,” solemn keys, and hefty, effected guitar solos. You could probably decry this as formulaic—every song starts simple, but piles on layers as they fly head-first toward their show-stopping closes—but given how solidly Suckers have nailed this formula, and for the fact that they’re the only band still waving the banner for this kind of loose-limbed indie, it’s hard to besmirch them for the fill in the blanks style they’ve got going here.
If it sounds like I’m making a lot of excuses, it’s because Suckers aren’t an easy band to intellectualize. Their music exists in a realm beyond thinkpieces, beyond “This is what music is now, man” sermonizing and beyond magazine cover profiles. Their music is made for sunset beer sessions, for driving at night, for making out, for reliving the good old days, for being romantic, for shouting with your friends. The best song here, “Chinese Braille,” isn’t going to top anyone’s song of the year list, but when Candy Salad is on, it seems like the only music you’ll ever need. And that counts for something.