Everything Is Amazing & Nobody Is Happy
Kind of Like Records
With the bulk of my punk listening habits falling in line with adjectives like “gruff,” “hard,” or “rough,” New Jersey’s Candy Hearts serves as a welcome change of pace. At the risk of re-igniting the finger wagging morality of the punk gender equity debate (to which the band has contributed to), I just want to point to Mariel Loveland’s soft, wispy carefree vocals and feminine charm as offering a peppy, jubilant atmosphere absent from her male counterparts. For those of us that forget there are emotions outside the raspy tone of Leatherface and Against Me!, Candy Hearts’ sophomore full length Everything Is Amazing & Nobody Is Happy is an exciting discovery.
The group’s charm can be racked up to front woman Loveland’s combination of sugar sweet innocence and hopeful realism. More playful than Mixtapes’ Maura, and less direct than Sheena from Lemuria,Everything Is Amazing & Nobody Is Happy is every bit as sarcastic as its title implies. “Always sort of out of key, addicted to caffeine and bad poetry, and not saying the things I mean,” sings Loveland on “Good Enough” – a sort of hipster anthem that transcends its indie pop audience.
Even with references to a judgmental male gaze critiquing unmatching socks and messy hair, Loveland’s charm spins a chorus line that supersedes gender appeal and offers the type of inspirational pick-me-up that more artists aught to aspire to. “I’m good enough for me and all the things that I want to be, it’s still alright to be down sometimes, cause nobody is perfect and I know you’re not worth it, it’s still alright to be down sometimes” – lines like this just feel good to listen to.
Built around a simple song structure half way between the simple pop-punk and indie-pop hooks, the highest notes strike a playful balance between nostalgia and present day. A hybrid combination of acoustic and plugged tunes ensure melodies are light and wispy, and succeed on the strength of their simplicity.
While an initial listen might make out the songs as a collection of childlike stories, Candy Hearts have in fact written songs about feelings. No, these aren’t the blunt black-and-white claims of “I Miss You,” and “I Love You” like you hear on the radio; these are some of the most genuine accounts of life’s most overlooked moments – as they unfold in all their truthful awkwardness. Personal favorite “Tongue Tied” describes the sensation of “skipping over sentences, not using my words right… erasing every comma so all my thoughts collide” in a universal statement to anyone who has ever found themselves with butterflies fluttering in their stomach. Others embrace failure as part of learning (“Lighter Than Air”), idolize that perfect role model from afar (“She’s So Cool”), and highlight the reality that you can’t hop in your car and drive away from your problems (“Asbury Park”). While the album’s first half certainly steals the show, songs like “Something Special” and the uniquely quiet “What I’m Made Of” never let up.
With Everything Is Amazing & Nobody Is Happy, Candy Hearts have caught lightening is a bottle. This quaint little collection of heartfelt melodies affords listeners the perfect chance for personal introspection and reflection. Don’t let the initial simplicity deceive you; Everything Is Amazing & Nobody Is Happy is a deep journey of self-discovery just waiting to happen. Come for the hooks – leave with a sense of life-spanning satisfaction. Bravo.