Halloween is an opportunity for people to try new identities, so it's appropriate that the Quad Cities-based band The Candymakers is marking the release of Ridiculicious with a pair of All Hallows' Eve shows at the Redstone Room.

Yes, the group will be wearing costumes. But Ridiculicious is such a radical departure from its predecessor that it feels like an entirely new - freer and better - ensemble. Using the same musical building blocks, the band has transformed itself largely by stripping the material of any pretense of nutritional value; one could say it's found its wheelhouse by sticking to the spirit of its name.

The Candymakers' self-titled album from 2012 was a skillful but generic blend of soul, R&B, and blues. The new album mostly still sticks to those, but its detours and playfulness give it an unexpected vitality and life. Where the lightness and brightness of the sound on The Candymakers undermined the mostly earnest songs, on Ridiculicious it's clear from the title on down that everything is meant in good fun.

"With this album, we kind of went more toward the summer-festival feel, the jam-band style of bands," said frontman Alan Sweet in a phone interview last week. "Just trying to open up our fan base a little bit, and get a little bit of a different style out there before we release the next album."

That wasn't the band's intent going into recording, but the loose, quick process was a good fit for what became Ridiculicious.

Sweet said the core sextet went into the studio with a handful of tunes it had been playing for the past year or so. But more than a dozen others were new songs that had never even been rehearsed before - and sometimes they were just skeletons or ideas.

"We all brought musicians into the studio, we had a song ready, we gave it to everybody, we would rehearse it for about an hour, and then we would record it," Sweet said. "Just kind of trusting the group of musicians to woodshed some songs real quick and then put their feel on top of it."

At the end, The Candymakers had roughly two-dozen songs, and they broke down naturally into two albums: one that's an extension of the self-titled album (and could be released in six months or so, Sweet said) and Ridiculicious.

The new album's songs are all "a little more out there, more wild," Sweet said. "Nothing on the album is serious at all. It's all fun. It's kind of party music."

"Workin'" is a good example of how the band rolled with what happened. Sweet said it was envisioned as a "kind of a giddy-up gospel-blues kind of style, with a little bit of country gospel. That was ... one that was basically recorded on the spot. That one just kind of went toward the bluegrass, because that's the way the sound was coming out, and that's the direction we went with it. ...

"There's an idea, and then sometimes that idea doesn't come full circle, but there's something good coming out of it regardless."

Ridiculicious has its share of silly songs, starting with the slinky, Marvin Gaye-styled opener "Dip You in Chocolate" (a new take on a previously recorded song). The humor here comes from the poker-faced, single-entendre literalness; it plays like the narrator really wants to make a confection of the object of his affection, and it's pretty damned charming.

"C U Naked," on the other end of the spectrum, would be deplorably sexist but for the tone-deaf Barry White impersonation - a man who mistakes his direct come-ons as sexy.

Crucially, the album is also musically sharp and tight. "That Ain't My Baby" has a sinuous building groove at the outset and is punctuated by a great central hook in the horns, guitar, and keyboard. Its path is also strikingly unpredictable, from the piercing guitar solo to the game-show-skit interlude that leads to an explosive guitar-and-howl outro that wouldn't be out-of-place on an album by a melodic metal group.

The horns and insistent beat drive the funky "Fire Alarm," and what it lacks in lyrical sophistication it more than makes up for in gritty soul.

Closer "Sweet & Low Down" is a pure rock song that barely resembles the retro feel that The Candymakers specialize in, and it demonstrates the band's range - which was largely the point of Ridiculicious, Sweet said.

"We all enjoy playing blues, but none of us really write blues music," he said. And while the group established its reputation in a style directly anchored by the blues, "we just kind of realized: This might not be exactly what we're trying to do. ... We're just more a party, drinking band that wants to fly around on stage and have fun ... and sweat a lot."

The Candymakers will perform two CD-release shows on Friday, October 31, at the Redstone Room (129 Main Street, Davenport; RiverMusicExperience.org). A family-friendly set will begin at 6:30 p.m., with a show for ages 19 and older starting at 10:15 p.m. Tickets are $10 per show, or $15 for both.

For more information on the Candymakers, visit TheCandymakers.com.

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