by: Mice Parade

Mice Parade has taken listeners on geographical, musicological, and emotional journeys for years, and Candela is one of the most accessible chapters in Adam Pierce's travelogue. Borrowing its title from a Spanish bar that is also a mecca for flamenco guitarists, Candela takes Pierce's multi-cultural inspirations in directions that never sound forced, regardless of how subtle or overt they are. As with his previous album, What It Means to Be Left-Handed, Pierce ventures further into pop territory, and these are some of Mice Parade's most immediate songs yet. On "Currents," Caroline Lufkin's sweet but knowing vocals provide a contrast to Pierce's drawl and add an extra sparkle to the intricate drums and highlife-tinged guitars; meanwhile, on the cozy finale "Warm Hand in Narnia," Pierce pairs the most fantastical song title with the most straightforward, heartfelt indie rock. Even though these may be among Mice Parade's most direct songs, Candela's version of pop isn't exactly simple. Pierce uses the most light-hearted, sophisticated, and daring aspects of post-rock to craft songs with gorgeous arrangements full of motion and depth, particularly on "The Chill House" and "Gente Interesante," which moves from rippling guitars and dubby drums to Latin rhythms and brass with dreamlike ease. Pierce layers moods just as skillfully as sounds, and the album's finest songs are among the most emotionally complex. He lashes out at an ex on "Pretending" as riptide guitar distortion emphasizes the feeling of things being torn asunder, but as he sings "take some other person down with you," there are remnants of love along with the anger; "Candela" begins as a sweet, globe-trotting love song, but the gypsy vocals and vibraphone that emerge toward the end transport the track to another level entirely. Where Mice Parade's previous albums were richly rewarding but maybe too eclectic for some listeners, Candela works well as an entry point into Pierce's earlier music as well as a summation of how artfully he blends electronic, indie, and global influences. ~ Heather Phares

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