A warbly handwritten script appears superimposed over faded yellow parchment as a pair of jaunty synth orchestra stabs punctuates the action. An edged voice, breathy and distorted, trills out an opening verse: “Here’s my confession / I got a death wish / I’m in the fast lane / addicted to excess.” These lyrics are spelled out in time amid rough animations and shifting religious imagery.
So begins the music video for “Oh My Dear Lord,” the latest single from Fort Worth modern alt-rock outfit the Unlikely Candidates. Infectious and radio-ready, with a neck-snapping dubstep chorus, the track also opens Danger to Myself, the five-piece’s newest EP, which was released last month by Red Music, an arm of Sony Music Group.
“The label sent us a few different treatment ideas for a video,” said singer Kyle Morris. “We thought the idea behind this one was visually really cool.”
Lyrically, the song recalls a fall from grace of sorts. Nods to success and the accompanying excess give way to self-reflection and humble pleading – or so it seems. In the mold of famous lyrical bait-and-switchers like Sting and Morrissey, a favorite game of Morris’ is to lay out a seemingly obvious theme in a song that often belies the true subject he’s really addressing. For instance, the Candidates’ “Violence” from 2017’s Bed of Liars appears to be about a physically abusive romantic relationship, but, according to Morris, it was really inspired by the recent surge in police brutality.
“I like to use certain ideas as a context to secretly talk about bigger things,” Morris said. “Sometimes I think it works a little too well,” he laughed, adding, “most people don’t seem to pick up on what I’m really saying. But that’s OK. It’s really a thing I do just for me.”
“Oh My Dear Lord” isn’t the only new Candidates-related video currently circulating online. Morris, along with lead guitarist Brenton Carney, drummer Kevin Goddard, bassist Jared Hornbeek, and rhythm guitarist Cole Male, offered a version of their song “Celebrate” (which also appears on Danger to Myself) to Huntington Beach reggae and hip-pop outfit Dirty Heads. The resulting collaboration features the Heads’ Dustin “Duddy B” Bushnell and Jared Watson rapping over the song’s verses while Morris’ supplies the soft, melodic chorus: “Mom, if you can hear me, I think we made it,” he sings. “Twenty-thousand fans from the stage I’m standing on / I want you to know I appreciate it / One day I’ll come home, and we can celebrate.”
The video, directed by noted MTV video creator Wayne Isham (Ricky Martin, Britney Spears), helped spark a hit for the Heads, as the track is currently hovering in the Top 25 of Billboard’s alternative charts, competing among superstars like Imagine Dragons and Royal Blood.
“I wrote ‘Celebrate’ at a studio in New York,” Morris said of the collaboration. “The producer we were working with does a lot of work with Dirty Heads and asked if he could share it with them. They really liked it and asked if they could do a version of it. We’re all really happy with how it turned out.”
Danger to Myself is the Candidates’ third consecutive EP, but there’s a chance it could eventually be expanded into the band’s debut full-length album. They’re hoping “Oh My Dear Lord” gives them some momentum toward that end. The idea of going into a studio and cutting a record whole cloth is intriguing to Morris, though it’s not a method he sees the band undertaking any time soon. At their Hemphill Heights home studio, piecemeal recording a song or two at a time has been the group’s modus operandi since its inception.
“I’d love to do it one day, maybe,” Morris said about the prospect of recording in a major studio. “But it’s so expensive. We have a pretty good studio and would much rather have the luxury of doing it ourselves. If we get an idea at 3 a.m., we can lay it down and send it off to our team in New York, have them do what they do, send it back, and layer it from there. We have so much more freedom.”
The Candidates get a chance to debut “Oh My Dear Lord” and the rest of the EP’s material in a rare appearance in front of a hometown crowd this week at MASS.
The Unlikely Candidates
8:30pm Thu w/War Party and Todd Faroe at MASS, 1002 S Main St, FW. $7. 682-707-7774.