Candy Says - Not Kings (Review)
Review by Jack Foley
AFTER the release of two sold out cassette singles via Cool For Cats (the home of Fight Like Apes) in 2013, Oxford lo-fi electro-tinged pop collective Candy Says now release their debut album Not Kings but struggle to consistently capitalise on their early good work.
Recorded entirely in the garage of lead vocalist Juju Sophie’s bungalow, the band have recreated modern sounds, loops and beats using vintage organs, synths and guitars.
The result is something they describe as “lo-fi chic pop” – thoughtful and inventive arrangements masquerading as retro pop.
To be fair, when they get it right, there’s a fun element to them, as evidenced by former single and opening track Not Kings, which almost sounds like Air mixed with Phoenix. The stop-start guitar riffs, finger-click beats and fuzzy electronics add up to a cool, retro, catchy whole that really gets into your head in a good way.
Favourite Flavour, the track that follows, also has a breeze-pop flavour that engages, while the part-French, part-English C’est Pas Comme Ca has a Serge Gainsbourg meets Air quality that is notably different from the norm.
However, the problems begin with Lord’s Mistake, which unsuccessfully juxtaposes breezy guitar licks with a darker, more droning vocal that insists “I am the Lord’s mistake” to annoying effect.
Hummingbird gets things back on track and is another favourite for the way in which it effortlessly engages.
But Dreamers promises more than it delivers, opening amid a catchy harmony but then adopting a sing-speak approach that, again, doesn’t convince and Melt Into The Sun underwhelms.
Thereafter, the album remains hit-and-miss. Chad has a kooky-sweet quality to it, Dead on Arrival unsuccessfully mixes barely sung vocals with angelic harmonising and Understand The Night aims for Tarantino-esque (or cult) but is only partially engaging (not all of the instrumentation works, while the decision to go French again frustrates).
Cool Sensation then arrives to set up the prospect of a decent end to the album but Camilla fails again to make good on that potential.
Not Kings is an album that you may ultimately want to like more than you actually do.
Download picks: Not Kings, Hummingbird, Chad