Music Reviews
Candle To Your Eyes

Shapes and Sizes Candle To Your Eyes

(Asthmatic Kitty) Rating - 7/10

A small and bold line of print states, “This recording was intended to be played loudly.”

There’s annoying bravado to that statement that really isn’t matched by Candle To Your Eyes, the third album by Montreal-based quartet, Shapes and Sizes.  Like the candle in its title, Shapes and Sizes burn with quiet intensity, soul rhythms and dusted art pop that are both hook-heavy and magnetic.  

Realizing the accolades The xx earned last year by resuscitating guitar-based R&B and soul, Shapes and Sizes are mostly doing the same thing, though their permutation seems less reliant on mood with more of an emphasis on swing and rhythm.  There is a dancing swagger to this album and you don’t have to look any further than the slow and sultry Too Late For Dancing to hear it, singer Calia Thompson-Hannant the “little girl lost” in an imagined hall full of slow moving couples, pelvises locked.

Candle To Your Eyes, though, is an album that needs consideration more than volume, its art rock perception immediately noticeable next to its soul-infused foundation.  Tell Your Mum pairs both dynamics well enough while Sing Them Songs is all vocal, guitar tweaks and heavy toms until it transitions into its hyper-rhythmic chorus line, singer Rory Seydel taking a momentary backseat from his indifferent reiterations of, “If North America’s the new third world/Then I don’t wanna miss…”  

With Time Has Practically Stopped and I Need An Outlet, experimental liberties are confined to the six-string, though the rhythm section scores an opportunity to commingle with the ideas in Time Has Practically Stopped.  The song is sort of an off-time accented waltz that transitions into a duel-belled opportunity for Thompson-Hannant to lengthen her voice a little.  When initially free of the album’s spell, Time Has Practically Stopped was the song that caught my ear and demanded further listens.

Songs like You Don't Have To Drink From Here and 23 And Rising are both decent rock tracks that sound based in Pretenders’ throb and lo-fi garage vapor, perfect breathers from the band’s art rock excursions.

The Hit Parade, though, is an especially odd fit to this album, as it flirts with some clichéd combination of Tori Amos and 80s era Carly Simon.  Album closer, Old Worlds, sounds like it was inspired by multiple listens of Toto’s Africa, ending the album on this strange shift that doesn't negate the promise of its seven other songs, but confuses the mix to some degree.  

Having said that, Candle To Your Eyes still holds up and ably provides enough genuine moments to keep your ears glued to your headphones.  Whether it was intended for high volume or not, there are always rewards for paying attention and the spoils will be lost to anyone just looking to turn it up.