Searching for new and exciting music in the digital age can be a disheartening process. It’s not for lack of material; loads of places (iTunes, MySpace, ifyoumakeit.com) do everything but throw free tunes at you, but too often the phrase “You get what you paid for” comes up. Or the music will be nice to listen to, but for whatever reason, it never sticks and rots away in the “downloads” folder of your computer.
Which makes finding a genuinely awesome band like Candy Hearts all the more rewarding. A total “sure, why not?” download off of ifyoumakeit.com and this album has become one of my favorites of the year already. Seriously, anyone who wants to be in a pop punk band that isn’t shit, take notes here, because Ripped Up Jeans and Silly Dreams is a perfect example of the genre. The band sets the energy straight on ten for “What I Want” and “Blocking the Sunshine” (perhaps the best song present). The choruses are total singalongs without trying too hard to be (a problem that plagues too many artists nowadays), and everything here is Top 40 catchy. And don’t let the name fool you, Candy Hearts are no sissies when it comes to getting loud; “Hiding From My Friends” is full of hard hitting electric guitars and dense cymbal crashes.
These guys (and gal) know their way around their instruments, too. Instrumentation here is a perfect mix of simplicity while throwing in tricks and flourishes that compliment the songs perfectly. These are well-crafted songs, too. Each one is able to stand on its own, even once you get more than halfway into the album where a lot of bands lose steam. For pop-punksters, there’s a lot of acoustic guitars here, but even then the band is inventive too. It’s not just an acoustic for the sake of it, Candy Hearts really makes the acoustic guitar work for them on heart on the sleeve “Why”, or fast-paced “Punk Songs”. Singer Mariel Loveland doesn’t have the most powerful voice, but she gets by perfectly fine with what she has, and the earnestness in what she says more than makes up for it. All of these features are made clear in an incredibly sharp mix; usually indie releases sound underproduced to the point of unflattering, that is definitely not the issue here.
Candy Hearts seems to follow the “crack open the journal/heart-on-the-sleeve” approach (again, keeping with the pop punk tradition) when it comes to lyrics. This approach is surprisingly difficult to do successfully in music. You can be too generic ala Taylor Swift, too juvenile like blink-182, or too “emo” like the band lyrics your ex puts in their Facebook status. Candy Hearts avoids that by painting extremely detailed pictures of personal stories like on “Flashers Flashing”. They cover themes like crushes, good times, bad times, loneliness, and having good old fashioned fun.
In a world with boring, derivative, bratty bands, discovering something like “Ripped Up Jeans and Silly Dreams” comes as a breath of fresh air. Everything about this album is great, and it’s definitely one of my favorites for 2010. The fact that these guys haven’t cracked the 500 fan mark on Facebook borderlines criminal. Five stars for the best pop punk album I’ve heard in years.
tl;dr: Listen to them now so you can say you heard them first. If they keep this up, Candy Hearts is going places. Five out of five stars.