For their first album in seven years, Mad Caddies present a mish-mash of their many influences on Dirty Rice, ultimately leaving old listeners satisfied with their return, but yearning for more signature tracks than provided. Although there are a few standout songs, some lack direction and uniqueness to tie the complete album together. For new audiences, the album serves as a reference to the septet’s range of ska, pop and punk influences.
While some tracks groove and others push up-tempo, nearly every track provides vibrant, visual metaphors in their lyrics. The opening track, “Brand New Scar,” features a piano intro that builds into a swinging, pop-infused song about “losing at love again.” From here, the next four tracks present a mix of reggae and punk influences, much different than the second half album, which is where the band finds its ska groove. Tracks like “Love Myself” and “Bring It Down” are relatively short, punk-heavy tracks, using fast, distorted power chords, contrasting the prevalent horns and ska rhythms found throughout the rest of the album. The horns come alive on the second half of the album, playing a much more featured role in catchy numbers like “Airplane” and “Little Town.”
Memorable lyrics and wordplay are the glue which holds the album together, but other than that, the music is comprised of many different genres that at times distorts the ska-punk band’s identity. With verses like, “She wears a streetlight like a halo of gold/For some a sin for him a sight for sore eyes” in “Down And Out,” Mad Caddies show their witty, playful and unique songwriting style. For the band’s devoted fans, Dirty Rice may feel to similar to their previous work after such a long hiatus, but there are enough notable numbers that should entice new and old fans to give the album a listen.