Opening with handclaps and a frantic chorus of “got to get out before my heart explodes” throughout title track ‘Not Kings,’ Oxford-based newcomers Candy Says have burst onto the scene with their self-released debut. Possibly the most endearing pop duo to come out of the UK since Slow Club, Juju Sophie and Ben Walker create a similar sort of homemade sound that twists and turns, impossible to pin down.
As sweet as their name suggests but with an edge, Candy Says effortlessly meander between synth-driven melodies and acoustic rhythms. Their unique brand of chic charm is charged with bold claims of being “the Lord’s mistake,” but if that’s the case then ‘Not Kings’ is a mistake worth making.
Stand-out track ‘Favourite Flavour’ continues the sugary motif with an injection of that classic Brit-pop brand of sexuality (complete with a kiss) and an infectious round of Na-na-nas that will remain in your head long after the record stops spinning. Only the over-eager lullaby ‘Melt Into The Sun’ borders on saccharine with its declarations of like and sing-along counting.
‘C’est Pas Comme Ca’ and ‘Hummingbird,’ sprinkled with sultry and bilingual whispers, increase the intimacy, romantically drawing in listeners like sirens before unleashing the Kevin Barnes-esque barrage of stream-of-consciousness ramblings and electronic dance beats of ‘Dreamers.’ Towards the end of the album the tone shifts again with ‘Cool Sensation,’ a fuzzier track not unlike Phantogram at their sleepiest.
Overall, Candy Says launch a solid freshman effort in ‘Not Kings,’ proving DIY creativity and energy trump outside resources. They may not be royalty, but they’re certainly on the rise.
May 28 – The Waiting Room – London, UK
May 29 – Truck Store – Oxford, UK