Of course, after they were dropped from Sony Music Nashville, I still had no interest to hear any new music from them. Then they released “Whiskey On My Breath”, a song that was enough for me to change my stance on the duo and acknowledge that they could create great music if they really put their mind to it.
Even the album that accompanied it in February 2015 wasn’t all that bad. Was it a good album? Well, almost. At the very least, it showed that the duo could create enjoyable (and interesting) country-pop songs like “Let’s Get Drunk and Make Friends”, and of course there was the stellar title track as well as “Everybody Drives Drunk”. As such, the duo managed to catch my attention when they announced they had signed with Curb Records this March. Curb isn’t exactly a good record label in any sense, but hey, they let Mo Pitney release his solid album, so surely Love & Theft would continue to make smart pop-country right?
Well if the lead single, “Candyland” from their yet to be named album is any indication, then no. If anything, “Candyland” finds the duo reverting back to the same uninteresting pop-country sound they were making back in their days at Sony. Now, keep in mind, I have no problem with pop flavored country music. As I said before when discussing their last album, this sub-genre can be done right. The problem is that it’s often not in mainstream country music.
So, ok, to the song’s credit (and the duo for the matter), this song does have a somewhat pleasant melody, and Stephen Barker Liles is certainly a good singer. The problem is that both him and Eric Gunderson don’t really seem all that invested in the song, choosing to adopt a more causal or even disinterested tone rather than passionate. It’s pleasant, but forgettable.
Of course, we can’t look at why it’s really forgettable until we dissect the other elements of the song. The production is fairly inoffensive, but that’s all I can really say about it. The acoustic guitars blend better with the drum loops better than you might think, but still, we shouldn’t be discussing drum loops in country music. That’s not even to mention the pretty gutless guitar work all throughout this song.
Lyrically, well it’s nothing you haven’t heard before. It’s a generic love song about how a girl makes a guy feel. That’s it. Given the title, there’s references to the girl’s lips tasting like sugar along with “tasting” them and other corny references, but even so, the pun about living in candyland certainly isn’t clever by any means. It’s not atrocious or anything, but it’s also not exactly good, and that’s unfortunately the way I feel about this song as a whole.
Overall, I get why the duo is releasing a song like this. They don’t want to be independent, they want to be radio stars. Hey, more power to them, but if that’s the case then I suppose I’ll go back to feeling about this duo the same way I did before – with disinterest at best. “Candyland” isn’t horrible by any means, but it’s not what I was hoping to hear from the duo.
Author: Zackary Kephart