When Marcy Playground’s borderline-annoying novelty hit “Sex And Candy” was all over alternative radio in the late ’90s, spending an astounding 15 weeks at #1 on the Modern Rock Chart, I couldn’t think of a song I could possibly like less.Â So imagine my shock when I not only liked a song from their second album, but that second album became one of my favorites from the ’90s.
Shapeshifter was the trio’s second album, coming two years after their self-titled debut.Â While there wasn’t an out of the box smash like “Sex And Candy” to be found, the first single, “It’s Saturday,” (download) (an infectious ode to catching a venereal disease) got plenty of airplay on 91X, my then-local alt-rock station in San Diego.Â In fact, I had no clue this excellent power-pop song was from what I considered an awful one-hit wonder from two years prior.Â Once I found out, it still didn’t prevent me from picking up Shapeshifter, a decision I didn’t regret.
Shapeshifter is packed with hooks from top to bottom.Â Highlights include the second, less successful single, “Bye Bye,” (download) a smash that should have been.Â In a different world, “Bye Bye” would have erased “Sex And Candy” from everyone’s consciousness.Â In reality, only 91X gave it a few perfunctory spins while the rest of the alternative nation sighed and shrugged.
The rest of the album sports an impressive range, from the power-pop singles to folkier numbers, to psychedelic ballads like the stellar “All The Lights Went Out.” (download) I highly recommend Shapeshifter if you happen to see it lying about your favorite used CD shop.Â It’s been unfairly forgotten thanks to the band’s one-hit wonder status, and I think you’d be pleasantly surprised by its depth.Â It’s currently out of print, but Amazon and iTunes have the whole shebang available as MP3s.
Hey, if I could get past “Sex And Candy” to give it a shot, you can, too.
“It’s Saturday” peaked at #25 on the Billboard Modern Rock Chart in 1999.
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