Anyone watching late night television infomercials in the early 1990s may remember a man named Tom Vu. Sitting on a yacht, surrounded by beautiful women in bikinis, laughably hawking his money making seminars, Vu aimed to be perceived as the American dream in the flesh. Tom Vu is also the first person you hear on The Underground Railroad to Candyland’s new album The People Are Home. Immediately, you think to yourself, this album is going to be fun. A jangly guitar is strummed, drums gallop in, and a song called “Dead Leg,” which has my early vote for the punk anthem of the summer, picks you up by the back of your shirt and hurls you headfirst into this record.
The first handful of songs on The People Are Home make good on the promise made by the playful Tom Vu intro. The tracks are upbeat, stomping, quick, catchy, and fun shout-along affairs. By the halfway point, however, a changeup is delivered in the form of a country-tinged instrumental, titled “Baby Makes WW3,” which sounds like it could easily be the theme to a vintage western TV series. This halfway point shift in style is a bit jarring and sounds out of place. It’s an intermission of sorts that sets up what will be the second half of the album. The remaining songs are a mixed bag of somewhat slower numbers that only occasionally return to the smash ‘n dash nimble levity of the first half. Fortunately, The People Are Home is saved by the title track that concludes the collection, returning to the rollicking style of the earlier songs.
Todd Congelliere, the lead singer of The Underground Railroad to Candyland as well as other bands like Toys That Kill, has been releasing albums under his Recess Records label for over twenty five years. The People Are Home isn’t an even album, but there’s definitely more good than bad here. Diehard followers of Todd’s will be happy with this release. Punk rock aficionados who may be dipping into the Recess Records waters for the first time with this album will get a healthy taste of the fun and thoughtful music Congelliere is capable of.