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Album Review: The Candle Thieves - Happiness Blues

Lo-fi Indie pop has been all the rage the last two years with several bands surfacing out of nowhere to take the genre by storm. Peterborough, England’s The Candle Thieves could easily be the next band to do so. What The White Stripes are to bluesy alt-rock is what The Candle Thieves are to indie pop, a stripped down duo keeping things very basic and maintaining a bit of mystery in their background. They consist of lead vocalist Scott McEwan and a mysterious fellow known simply as The Glock. Little can be found about The Glock other than he was once in a “Keane-like pop group that had a Top 40 hit”. Their latest release 'Happiness Blues' EP follows up their first full-length Sunshine and Other Misfortunes released in April.

'Happiness Blues' features four songs and showing the diversity that these two can get out of the little that they choose to work with. Musically they feature piano, keyboards, acoustic guitar and various percussion, although rarely more than two of them in the same song. Some songs will make you think of Eels or even Sufjan Stevens. At times I hear similarities much like a simplified version of one of my personal favourites, Architecture in Helsinki.

“The Sunshine Song” is a charming and thoughtful song perfect for the end of the summer. The chorus with the line “You know we can’t stay young forever, but we can stay young for the rest of our days” relays in words the feeling the music gives the listener, a carefree sort of optimism. The second track, “Annabelle’s Song”, changes the mood entirely. It has content reminiscent of those story telling songs that were everywhere in the 1970’s. The song tells a story of the song’s namesake, an unfortunate girl who faces more than her share of hardship. Of her misfortune she says “If you accept it, it gets easier” as she hopes for a change of luck. Despite the subject matter the cheerful feel never goes away, which is something The Candle Thieves do very well.

The latter two songs, while not bad by any stretch, don’t quite stack up to the first two. The largely instrumental “Paper Aeroplane” takes a basic approach with its simplistic beats over the consistent flow of layered keyboards. The closer “Balloon #2” carries on with the lo-fi style that works so well for them. It’s hard for them to be any more stripped down than they are to begin with but this song is piano driven with the vocals at the forefront and the only song lacking other instrumentation.

'Happiness Blues' is a logical next step for The Candle Thieves. It’s solid, but a little hit and miss. The first two tracks wooed me with their charm and wowed me with their poignant songwriting. The second two tracks lacked the lyrics that had me so impressed on the first two tracks. The music, albeit simple is effective, but only when paired with the lyrical prowess they have shown on some songs.


'Happiness Blues' by The Candle Thieves is released on September 13th on Carnival Town Records.

The Candle Thieves on MySpace, Twitter and Facebook.

Andy Young

Alter The Press!