Death of a Minor TV Celebrity (Velvel Records)
By: Alex Steininger
On their fourth album, and first American release in five years, the Candyskins deliver driven pop melodies that are fun to sing along with, but also portray a consistent theme throughout the eleven original tracks. Easily labeled as "Brit Pop," this Oxford, England quintet plays sweet, energetic power-pop with a British feel.
Leading off with "Feed It," their first single, which is gaining good-sized airplay across the nation, this upbeat, infectious number showers you with sing-along lines and inspirational lyrics. However, its inspiration is less than happy. Written after the Heaven's Gate incident, the pop rock feel of the song hardly even hints at the tragic event. It just goes to show the songwriting sophistication and ideas that help make this (and every) song one that is open to the listeners' translation, regardless of what event 'actually' inspired the lyrics.
Quieting down a bit, and leaving the amped-up hooks at the door, the title track shows the band in a new light. Led by an acoustic guitar and piano, the rhythm section softly walks along with the rest of the band. The vocals are the main draw, releasing serious ideas with a first hand perspective. Even as Nick Cope (lead vocals) is seemingly singing about a man who tied helium balloons to his lawn chair for attention, the lyrics hint at other possibilities and emotions. Several angles possible, none being the 'right' way to look at the song, they wrap you up as you come up with your own interpretations.
Even though they can get a lot of feeling into a toned down, soft number, the fun lies in their upbeat, jumpy pop melodies. And, that's exactly what "Somewhere Under London" will bring to you. More hooks, more guitar driven steam, and a bouncy rhythm section help propel this pop-charged ditty to the front of your mind. Mixing in soft spots, they draw you in and then step on the distortion pedals -- cranking out some heavy hooks.
Always mixing a serious message under the happy hooks, "Teenage Suicide" deals with controversy, heavy-handed emotions, and cries for help right from the get go. Arguably the emotional high of the album, and near the top when it comes to infectious-ness, the Candyskins have no problem wrapping you up as the story unfolds. "And everybody wants to hide, from a teenage suicide. And everybody wants a ride, from the teenage suicide," the lyrics that you'll find yourself singing along with during the chorus, keep you clinging to hope that the story will turn out positive. Mixed with unforgettable hooks, a potent mix of emotions and melodies drill this song right to your heart.
Ending with "Going Nowhere," the band finishes off with spacey, Brit-Pop number that, although not nearly as infectious as some of the high points on this album, helps finish off any lose ends and brings the album to a comfortable stop.
Previously not a fan of Brit-Pop, The Candyskins have broken any stereotypes I previously had on the genre. Delicious melodies, sharp images, and realism make their passionate pop songs come to life. Gone for five years, the wait seems to have been worth it. I'll give this disc an A-.