Candy Hearts – Ripped Up Jeans & Silly Dreams

Candy Hearts - Ripped Up Jeans & Silly DreamsCheck out that arts-and-crafts-style cover art to the right. Reminds me of Fuzzy Felt. Remember Fuzzy Felt? Man, that shit was awesome.

New York’s Candy Hearts are relatively new faces on the scene but they’ve already gotten quite a bit of attention thanks to the release of their debut album, Ripped Up Jeans & Silly Dreams, on donation-based record label If You Make It (check the link below if you want to skip right to the part where you’re downloading £free or £cheap music).  In terms of exposure you can’t do better than that.

So what do they play? Faintly twee girl-fronted power pop with an indie rock vibe and a D.I.Y aesthetic, basically; the easiest reference point for them is Lemuria but you might also get a feel for what they do by way of the Lemonheads, early the Thermals (back when they were scratchy and raw and when every song really did sound the same), perhaps the Breeders, or maybe even some of the various folky punk outfits I hear on Plan-It-X compilations and can never remember the names of. (Or this might just be me, initially convinced that Candy Hearts’ ‘Punk Songs’ was a cover. I’m now pretty sure it’s not.)

The album leads with a couple of tunes that characterise the album as a whole pretty well. ‘What I Want’ initially confused me a bit as an opener as while it’s musically a good tune it’s not the best on offer here; eventually it clicked that it might be placed first because of its lyrical content. See, while a lot of the songs on here are variably cutesy and good-times, about being love-lorn or hanging out, ‘What I Want’ has  just a little bit more of an edge and ironic wit to it: it might feature lyrics like “I don’t want to be the one / to say get your head out of the clouds / ’cause my head is up there too, /and I like having you around” but it also concludes “I don’t wanna be the one / to tell you to fuck off.” In terms of subverting lyrical expectations this reminds me of Emmy the Great’s ‘First Love’, specifically “I would forget like I’d piss on a grave.” The crudity doesn’t leap out in the same way as in ‘First Love’ but it has a down-to-earth attitude – I love you but you need to get your head out of your arse sometimes – that saves it from being too soppy or soporific.

The second track, ‘Blocking the Sunshine’, is a much more regretful song (although you wouldn’t guess that from its video – link below) and at times I’m wondering if singer Mariel Loveland’s voice drifts slightly out of tune at points. I’m not sure; she’s got a good voice and a decent range and throughout much of the album there are no real errors, so I’m wondering if it’s a stylistic affectation. Alternatively, this might be a side-effect of my listening to records, with earbuds, over and over again. Well, whatever: it’s not unpleasant, and if anything it’s endearing to see a little imperfection, even if it was deliberate.

Musically you’ve got fuzzy buzzsaw guitars hopping from chord to chord, thick and thumping bass and drums all contributing towards tunes that are fun and catchy. If opener ‘What I Want’ is lacking in memorable hooks, ‘Blocking the Sunshine’ goes some way towards mending that perception. So, too, does ‘You And Me’ which opens with half-spoken, half-sung vocals, single-note palm mutes on guitar and what sounds like a pre-programmed Casio drumbeat (soon replaced with bass and real drums) – structurally this tune reminds me quite a bit of Johnny Foreigner’s superb ‘Salt, Peppa ‘n Spinderella’. It’s the first song on the album where I fall a little bit in love with the singer (my vague rule of thumb for a female singer doing a love song) and also suggests a greater musical range than its two conventionally punky predecessors.

And so it goes on: there’s a slow, quiet and minimalistic tune (‘Flashers Flashing’ – about car indicators rather than sex pests I think) with some suitably cavernous drums, later leaping into a much more powerful chorus, and a bunch more songs with some catchy tunes and vocal lines (‘Without Caffeine’ and the aforementioned ‘Punk Songs’, the latter surely written for campfires and acoustic guitars and the former featuring some rare lead guitar work).

There’s an enticingly nerdy vibe to this record, a disarmingly everyday and honest attitude to its lyrical subject matter, and some toe-tapping indie-pop tunes. Ripped Up Jeans & Silly Dreams is a good record: not a brilliant one, but it’s a clear indication of a band who know what they want to do, and an infectiously uplifting listen.

MySpace | Candy Hearts TumblrIf You Make It | ‘Blocking the Sunshine’ video

2 Responses to “Candy Hearts – Ripped Up Jeans & Silly Dreams”
  1. Sarah S says:

    this is my first visit and I just wanted to stop by to say Hello All.

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  1. […] I’m quoting this bit because it’s among the most immediate and powerful, but I should emphasise that a big part of this article is about not wanting to present oneself as, or be perceived as, a victim. Read the whole thing here. It’s written by Mariel Loveland, who sings and plays guitar in Candy Hearts (reviewed at the tail end of last year, here). […]