Candidate - Under the Skylon
After the success of their last album, which was based around the Cult 1970’s movie ‘The Wicker Man’, Candidate have returned with another themed based album, except this time (as they don’t want to be known as ‘the alternative soundtrack band’ or worse so ‘that Wicker man band’) it’s a little more subtle apart from the title which explains some of the theme, in honour of the short lived building of the same name in London in the early 50’s, the Skylon which was torn down soon after its construction, an apt metaphor for the real theme of the album which is of a love affair and its eventual destruction.
The album starts off with a very short 22 second instrumental, which leads into the first proper song Going Outside, different to the rest of the album, it features more on a critical mix of folk-y guitars and the lead (Joel Morris’) Vocals, it captures your attention from the very first listen. On to Garden, another jaunty tune, but very much different to the last, which features more on lovely and refreshing strum based guitar work, its hard not to start singing along to this. Moving an Oil Rig goes back to the darker side of Candidate, as featured in Nuada, with female backing adding to an almost Clannad feel, but back to those later.
Nothing between us but sky continues the trend of eerie lyrics and vocals, with a catchy chorus and general eeriness. Its songs like these which set candidate apart from most with their ability to switch from cheery to eerie in a few tracks but still keep the theme of the album fresh in the mind with subtle undertones of each aspect of the album stirring underneath the surface.
Fatal Dose delves deeper into the peculiarity and strangeness with a theme of confusion in regards to feelings and excellent yet chilling guitar usage. Onto my favourite track of the album, Mountain Snow starting off calm and quiet like the previous tracks, it engages into a higher tempo quite soon after its intro. The reason this song is my favourite on the album is it brings a chill down my spine with its elusive and delicateness throughout. Falling Leaves carries its own metaphor about life, whereby comparing ourselves to leaves on a tree going through the seasons until the point the leaves and our lives hit the floor. The song itself has a certain amount of Clannad about it, which is no bad thing when done well, and it is.
Another One Down is another favourite of mine on the album, with both catchy guitar work and lyrics, yet again this is a song hard not to sing along to.
Glass Skylon is rather like an conflicting version of Going Outside as both heavily feature the same amounts of guitars versus vocals versus small amounts of a keyboard, but the songs are radically different tone wise, which along with this goes completely with the metaphor behind the album, as of Going Outside featured the start of the relationship, Glass Skylon deals with the bitterness at the end of a relationship. With a slight more tempo to it You are loved is a sort of middle ground between the slowness of Glass Skylon and the relative upbeat final track, Joel’s vocals singing in tandem to his backing female vocals (Alex Donohoe I believe) which further adds to the albums metaphor of the love affair destruction.
The final track on the album Lay me on the line is more upbeat than the last, and metaphor wise relates to desperation after a relationship crumbles, wanting answers about questions no-one should ask.
Under the Skylon has a more polished feel than Nuada (it did take nine times longer to make however) and rightly so, it’s a progression forwards for the band which will hopefully lead them into more success and ever increasingly better albums. Candidate seem to be the ‘band that never were’ because despite their obvious greatness, they like a lot of excellent bands seem to get overlooked. If you like artists like the Beta Band, REM, Clannad, and even The Byrds etc. then you’ll love Under the Skylon