Music Reviews

Mice Parade Candela

(FatCat) Buy it from Insound Rating - 5/10

The older I get, and the more reviews I write, the shorter they become. I suspect they all sort of make the same argument: that the artist I like has found a balance - sometimes an unexpected balance - between two somethings. It could be harmony and discord; cohesion and chaos; songwriting and instrumentation, but it almost always comes down to an element of surprise and satisfaction: recognizing something as familiar but delighting in how it is presented or achieved. When one of those elements fail, or tip the scales too far in one direction, I'm left bored or uncertain. 

In the case of Mice Parade’s Candela, I am left uncertain. I want to get it – I even fear I might be missing something – but it doesn’t have a lot of staying power for me. FatCat Records calls it a “bright and vivd LP that ... references source material from across the globe”; and they were right - there is a wealth of styles and instruments that are easy to hear, from classic post-rock guitars to clear moments of pop and funk-infused happiness. It has moments – but then they disappear, and they don’t come back, or they come back as something equally vibrant but unpredictable. It’s brainy, and interesting, but I wonder if these songs aren’t being too ambitious: so eager to move on, to move up, that they don’t connect as well as they could. Of course, there is a possibility that the songs on Candela are not meant to be harmonious. Adam Pierce (the band name is an anagram of his name) is no stranger to heavy layering, ambient backdrops and jangling laptronics, and it is this schizophrenic mishmash that can appeal to people. It may just be that I am not one of those people.

Songs like Chill House and Currents are notable exceptions, however. Chill House is a beautiful piece of magic that manages to conjure images of an Asian opium den slowly smothered by a rising undercurrent of noise and shoegazer shakers. Currents, like many of Mice Parade’s songs, showcases Adam Pierce’s percussion genius at the start and then leads into a volcanic eruption of post-rock guitar and breathy, indulgent vocals featuring Temporary Residence’s Caroline Lufkin. These are two songs that I can tell will still be vying for attention in my ‘Favourites of 2013’ folder, and it’s only January. These tracks are different, but they work because the listener doesn’t really have to.

Candela has some shining moments but, overall, is an album that teases the palette instead of really satisfying.