Mice Parade - Candela - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Mice Parade - Candela

by Daryl Worthington Rating:7 Release Date:2013-03-11

Most of us spend our teenage years stumbling and fumbling through clumsy romances, broken hearts and constant confusion. Turning 20 doesn't bring about the sudden onset of emotional bliss we imagined, and as the years go by we realise the complications just change rather than disappear. This could all be very depressing, but there's comfort in knowing it's the same for most people. Indeed, as Mice Parade show, there can actually be something quite beautiful in this part of the human condition.

With Candela, Mice Parade have made something equal parts gorgeous and awkward. The band, centred around percussionist Adam Pierce, has been making off-kilter pop music since the 90s, taking in a mix of jazzy percussion, warm electronics and flamenco guitar. These elements remain but here the focus is more on pure pop music, with an explicit, narrative approach which allows the lyrics to take centre-stage. The title track is a mini-epic, starting with an almost twee tale "of the coolest thing you ever did" - two lovers overcoming transport woes to meet in 'Candela'. The song suddenly morphs into a depiction of the emotional pain associated with the place as a consequence of the relationships eventual failure, all of this conveyed in under three minutes.

The songs have an underlying nerdy awkwardness, which makes the whole thing seem reassuringly human. 'Wam Hand in Narnia' sounds like Teenage Fanclub in it's depiction of a failing relationship. Lines like, "I know about your birth marks/ I know about your worst parts" being simultaneously clumsy but heartbreaking in their naive directness.

This awkwardness is reflected in the songs arrangements. 'Pretending' is another tale of emotional confusion and loss, the lyrics sounding like the suppressed rage of someone too nice to be viscous: "I knew your evils from the start/ but I still gave you my heart". The track starts with frantic drums, sounding on the verge of unravelling.

Mid-way through, it stumbles into something reminiscent of an Irish jig played on electric guitar, before finishing with raucous pop-punk power chords. The transitions between sections are not smooth, though. The 'jig' section feels nervous like it's trying to hold something in. Unexpectedly, it seems to shoot too soon, squirting into the release of the next section.

Throughout, the most obvious feature is how lush all the songs sound around these tales of awkward romance and heartbreak. 'The Chill House' has acoustic guitar loops over warm electronic beats, whereas 'Gente Interesante' has pretty mariachi brass wondering about over the minimal guitars and bass. Even on 'The River Has a Tide', a track built on sludgy guitars and drones, the band still convey a fuzzy summery warmth. This is first and foremost an album of lush, pretty pop music, but pop music which reflects the clumsy, nervous, confusion of real relationships.

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