Album Review: Candy Hearts – The Best Ways To Disappear (EP)

It’s had to be a nice year for New Jersey pop punk band Candy Hearts. After last year’s Everything’s Amazing & Nobody’s Happy, the band has been touring almost constantly, including a pair of dates on Warped Tour over the summer. They’re slated to open for New Found Glory on a string of dates next month, and were signed to Chad Gilbert’s Violently Happy imprint on Bridge 9 Records.

The Best Ways To Disappear, then, is a victory lap of the past year, and a glimpse at the band’s future. Candy Hearts has been billed as a pop punk band since the start, but there’s always been some indie-rock stylings thrown in the mix, especially on Everything’s Amazing. Those are thrown out the window on this EP, which is 18 minutes of pure pop-punk energy from the rush of “Bad Idea” to “Ticklish”, and all of its charm. While Candy Hearts has never had murky production or approached anything like low-fi, they’ve never had anything that sounds as outright big as the sound of The Best Ways To Disappear. Chad Gilbert’s production plays to the livelier aspects of the band; by kicking everything a little louder but clearer at the same time, there’s more power in songs like “Replacement Parts” and “Matchbox” than there would be otherwise.

If the songs on The Best Ways to Disappear aren’t road tested, they sound road-ready. Production aside, this is a muscular and confident batch of songs. The riff leading into “Matchbox”, as well as the song’s frantic prechorus, hit surprisingly hard, and the final, full band chorus of acoustic ballad “Sick of It” is the closest Candy Hearts has ever gotten to anthemic. Lead single “Bad Idea” starts relentless, and never lets go, but is still poppy enough to dance around to with a big smile.

Frontwoman and songwriter Mariel Loveland is getting sharper as a singer and lyricist with each release. She sounds more comfortable in her range, hitting some higher notes through the EP, but hasn’t lost any sweetness. Throughout TBWTD, her lyrics focus mostly on relationships and crushes (the lone outsider is “Sick of It”). On a full-length, it could get tiring, but the approach works on an EP. Her lyrics are easy to relate to from a “we’ve all been there” perspective, but there’s some craft and depth there, too. “Ticklish” takes a charming snapshot of adolescent crushes with “All I know is I know you’re ticklish/When I run my hands over your ribs/And I pretend I’m ticklish/Because I’d do anything to feel your skin against me”, and “Miles and Interstates” laments lost relationships with “Some day you’ll be a Polaroid of someone I used to know”.

Spanning six songs, TBWTD plays with consistency, and it’s hard to spot a particular high or low. Some extra energy, grit, and a playful bridge make “Matchbox” a slight standout for me, while “Miles and Interstate” is the only cut that’s even a little skippable. The singularity of the EP helps it feel cohesive, but it’s a light release; fans looking for something to tug at the heartstrings like “Anything”, “Sleepy Kisses”, or “I Want Out” will almost certainly leave empty handed (although they might find some comfort in “Sick of It”).

Some more variety from the band wouldn’t hurt, but the next full length will probably fix that. As a standalone release, The Best Ways To Disappear is a sturdy EP.  It’s a tight, focused group of songs that are not only enjoyable now, but should have a pretty long shelf life (playlist life?) to boot. At 18 minutes, it’s a great choice for repeat listenings without sounding repetitive. Four out of five stars.

tl;dr: One that shouldn’t disappear soon, 4/5

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About bgibs122

I enjoy music and music culture; I hope you do, too.
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