Julia Sophie Heslop’s reincarnation from brooding rock chanteuse, to 60’s tinged underground pop starlet is quite remarkable. To tinker with a successful recipe is one thing, but to throw out the cookbook altogether? Well fear not, evolution is a wonderful thing and this metamorphosis is doubtless one that Candy Darling herself would delight in.
Countdown complete, a brief nod to the Velvet Underground’s ‘Candy Says’ (source of the band’s name) and the Oxford quartet launch into ‘On the Radio’, which it’s certain to be should they choose to release it. Sugar coated harmonies, neat hooks, a touch of vocoder, sharp percussion and hats that put me in mind of Audrey Hepburn in ‘Two for the Road’; what’s not to like?
On introduction Candy’s sound appears stripped down and uncluttered. Yet scratch the surface and the songs glisten with tiny ideas like glitter on a child’s face. You get the feeling the shackles are finally off for Juju; there’s an excited smile on her face and a sense from here on in anything goes.
The riff driven ‘Ta Robe’ snarls like a PJ Harvey meets Peter Gunn offspring, whilst Juju andElisa’s vocals trade blows. Amidst organ swells and Indian bells ‘Kiss Kill’ romps across the dancefloor and has the Ting Tings wishing they’d had such a weapon for that difficult second album. Not to mention it’s got handclaps, I’m a complete sucker for handclaps.
Single, and pop gem ‘Favourite Flavour’ blurs the lines between decades. The percussive intro is a dead ringer for The Ronettes ‘Be My Baby’, and I can’t help thinking that Phil Spector would love to have spent some studio time with Candy. The lilting ‘Dead on Arrival’ is a sublime piece of writing, the second half of which, much like the Velvet’s, shows just how emotive two chords can be, as Elisa sings achingly, “ I just don’t know where I come from. I just don’t know where I can be found”.
‘Melt Into the Sun’ is a real earworm punctuated by a military cadence, and like the following ‘Dreamers’, a song that highlights the importance of Mike Monaghan and Ben Walker’s contribution to the Candy sound. Rhythmically-sussed, melodically literate, and economic in allowing JuJu and Elisa space to weave their spells.
To catch them in such intimate surroundings is a real pleasure, all be it one that won’t be repeated as bigger stages surely beckon. As they close proceedings with ‘Super Heroes’, you don’t have to be Peter Parker to sense Candy Says are something to Marvel at.