REVIEW: Mad Caddies – House On Fire EP (Fat Wreck Chords)

Californian ska-punks Mad Caddies have been making infectious records for 25 years now, and 2020 was due to be a big year for them, with lots of touring.

However, like everyone else in the music industry, their plans were scattered to the four winds by the coronavirus pandemic.

But, in a strange twist, having unexpected downtime allowed the six-piece to finally complete a batch of songs they had been tinkering with since 2017.

The result is the five-song digital EP House On Fire, their first original music in six years.

Lead track Let It Go is the most Mad Caddies-like song here, a chilled-out song about trying to save a dying relationship, and then deciding not to bother.

Frontman Chuck Robertson’s voice is to the fore, crisp and bright, against a gently skanking beat, and sparing use of echo which gives it a slighty dubby feel in places.

But the rest of the EP sees the band step away from their ska and punk roots entirely, and show their versatility as songwriters.

Waiting For The Real Thing is a hugely enjoyable doo wop-inflected number with a big, brassy horn line, while Strange Days is an unremarkable pop-rock number and probably the weakest track here.

Dogs Of War could be Green Day (who they covered on their last album, 2018’s Punk Rocksteady) with added trumpets, and it’s probably my favourite song of the five on offer here.

The EP closes with Wake My Baby, a straight-up-and-down uptempo rock song about the end of a romantic relationship, and again there’s a smattering of punchy horns.

As an appetiser for more new music this EP slips down nicely, and a nice reminder that even after 25 years together, a band can still find ways to develop. 7/10.

Gary Welford owner