Versatility is a term that often gets thrown around when you think of bands and/or solo artists that might play multiple instruments or self produce their own work from start to finish. While all of these things are definitely components of a versatile artist sometimes that versatility can take on a bit of a chameleonic effect though. The Unlikely Candidates definitely lean in to that chameleonic aspect of things. Their debut full length, Panther Island, carries a lot of similar sounds and pop sensibilities to some Top 40 powerhouses like Maroon 5 and Imagine Dragons with a mild mix of fringe pop favorite The Neighbourhood. However, The Unlikely Candidates are anything but a carbon copy of any of those bands. While they may carry some similar pop sensibilities, they give them their own unique flair that makes them stand out amongst their contemporaries.
The album open with the combo of “Gemini” and “Someone To Remind Me” which both carry that slight Maroon 5 similarity, but not in the modern overly autotuned version of Maroon 5. Vocally it resembles a bit of the “classic” Maroon 5 sound from Songs About Jane before they felt the need to autotune everything. Both tracks are solid and play strongly into [Kyle] Morris’ vocal ability. “Novocaine” follows suit and is a large bombastic track (over 46mil streams on Spotify since it’s release in 2019) that stands out on the album.
“Sunshine” is where the album seems to find it’s proper footing. While the preceding tracks are all quality tracks they do seem to be more of a warm up for what is to come on the rest of the album. “Sunshine” carries some slight hip hop influences with it’s rhythm, but also is very simplistic in composition which fits perfectly with the lyrical approach with lines like “take me back to a simpler time/nothing but sunshine on my mind.” “How I Am,” which is the album’s latest single, follows and keeps some of the slight hip hop influence while diversifying it within the track so it’s not just a rehash of the previous track. “Grenadine” is probably the weakest track on the album, but carries some unique musical moments with it’s instrumentation.
“Carousel” is another simplistic track, but has a catchy hook that is sure to stick around in your head long after. “Cry Baby” and “Bad Imagination” are a solid combo with “Bad Imagination” carrying a bit of a Panic! At The Disco vibe vocally which, again, speaks strongly to Morris’ vocal ability. The album draws to a close with “High Low” and “In My Room.” “In My Room” serves as the perfect final track as it is uniquely different than the rest of the album and adds to the versatility that the band as whole showcases throughout the entire album.
From start to finish Panther Island is a unique and fun ride that doesn’t take itself too seriously and allows the listener to find something they can relate to on at least one of the tracks if not the whole album. Given the band’s ability to write solidly crafted songs it is only a matter of time that their name become commonplace in larger musical circles.
Panther Island is available now on all major streaming platforms.