Seamless surf rock, once again
Brain Candy is so much more than a zombie’s go-to munchie—it’s the delicious and juicy sweetness of ‘90s style pop surf rock, which Hockey Dad has managed to put on a silver platter. As the band’s third LP, they marginally experiment with new sounds to cook up some digestible tracks for their massive fanbase.
Australia’s own duo, Hockey Dad, has been carving out new music since their upbringing in the Aussie coastal town of Windang with their own local flare. Guitarist Zach Stephenson and drummer Billy Fleming have always been key figures in the Australian DIY music scene since their debut EP Dreamin’ in 2014. But six years later, their newest album Brain Candy is the missing piece to their music career.
A majority of the songs on Hockey Dad’s Brain Candy bounce off of each other with excitement, though they have also proven they can pump the brakes for some slow jams. The first track on this setlist, “In This State,” an energetic ballad and feisty swarm of distorted guitar with compassionate undertones. This song is a true ode to the band’s eternal chemistry. “I Missed Out” is a confessionary tune behind Fleming’s façade of fiery drumming, with a sense of FOMO from Stephenson and how the duo isn’t living a “normal” life. Similar to some of their previous hits, this song has an edge and tonal rhythm which works down the path of the modern person’s psyche.
Cruising into the next track, “Milk In The Sun” is a complex rooted rhythm with daydreamed melodious riffs that set a narcotic vibe throughout the song. It’s an easy transition to their latest single, “Good Eye.” This track is definitely a step back in time for the band, with a classic Aussie indie rhythm hinting towards the older and wiser. Profound power chords and Stephenson’s vocal talent harmonize to produce a track worth playing on one’s way to the nearest wave break. “Germaphobe” is one of the more easily digested tracks, in which the band takes a more indie route towards their fans. A potential cult classic for their future live sets with its repetitive and uncomplicated choruses (not to mention a coronavirus-appropriate title).
As the second single released from this album, “Itch” stands out from the setlist. It is even proclaimed by the band as, “the most non-Hockey Dad song we have ever recorded.” The rhythm is haunting, the guitar is ghostly and Stephenson’s voice is nothing if not alluring. This track is a true expression of Hockey Dad’s seamless creativity, even in a style unparalleled to their previous music.
To follow this behemoth is “Heavy Assault,” an almost 180-degree flip of musical style. It contrasts “Itch” significantly, but seems out of place, perhaps in their previous album Boronia (named after their childhood street name). After comes “Nestle Down,” a song which emanates stroked guitar and rough muffled vocals from Stephenson. It’s a speedy track with the energy of a glassy surf break, with the fluidity of the entire ocean. This, along with “Tell Me What You Want,” are air-tight and classic Hockey Dad sensations. Heightened vocals and magnetic guitar outros tie the tightest of knots on these smooth songs.
As per usual, the Aussie duo enjoys turning the RPMs down towards the end of their tracklists. “Dole Brother” is the beginning of this gradual decline, with a sexy guitar solo and filthy drumming from Fleming. “Keg” is the afternoon surf session people’s ears need to escape to. Slow but melodious, this track cascades with twangy riffs and passive vocals to overlay on beachside views.
“Reno” is what will be known as the sunset track, in that as the sun sets over the horizon, this song will be blaring in the background as those colors fade to black. Crisp guitar strums and faint cymbal taps from Fleming take listeners elsewhere, or perhaps towards the horizon itself. As the closer, “Looking Forward To The Change” is an emotional journey from the hearts of Hockey Dad themselves. While the song is docile at first, Fleming kicks up the pace for an emphatic and lustful drum solo worthy of repeating with one’s hands on the surface in front of them.
To put it bluntly, Hockey Dad is in a music subcategory with little diversity in sound or taste. Though as their highly anticipated third LP, Brain Candy is perhaps the seamless music this band needed to maintain their prevalence as surf rockers.