WASHINGTON, April 29, 2014 – Observing Candy Hearts up on stage recently at Jammin’ Java, it was almost impossible not to give in to the million puns that can spontaneously be associated with this band.
Some bands try to fight their nature. But up on stage, this one looks like a four piece that intends to lean into the skid. It’s hard to imagine how a band can play the way they do and not be aware of the candy-based connotations stirred up by their peculiar name.
Candy Hearts is quite possibly the most obvious pop/punk band performing today – maybe ever. One of the things working in their favor on everything they’ve recorded or performed live, is that they wear their oddball name as a badge of honor. They clearly love writing quick-hitting songs that deal almost exclusively with romance and heartbreak.
In other words, everything about Candy Hearts is short and sweet, from their sets to the stature of front woman Mariel Loveland. It’s the absolute key to understanding and enjoying this band.
The brevity of both their set and their songs is crucial to the make up of this band’s sound. They’re never trying to reinvent pop/punk, yet that doesn’t make their songs any less infectious. Their selections are the shortest in the history of punk, but just like any self respecting punk band, Candy Hearts amps up the tempo even further to cram as many songs as possible into the 30 minute allotted them.
So why aren’t doing anything particularly different with their genre? It’s really a moot point. None of that really matters, because what they are doing is always top notch.
Every song they played at Jammin’ Java—their program was a mix of their first LP, “Everything’s Amazing & Nobody’s Happy,”and their EP “Best Ways to Disappear,” packs that necessary pop punch. At the same time, there’s a certain kind of tenderness that comes with each hook they play that easily draws the audience in without losing any of the band’s high-energy edge.
Still, there are a lot of pop/punk bands that can fire off a catchy number. What Candy Hearts are doing – while remarkably efficient and entertaining – isn’t anything new for a band of this type. If the band simply stopped there within that definition, they would become an effective pop/punk group regardless of anything else, making them still worth listening to.
What sets them apart and makes them a worthwhile audience investment is Mariel Loveland when she’s playing her signature pink guitar.
Loveland has a definite knack for building off Candy Heart’s buoyant rhythm, punctuating it with lyrics perfectly suited for their style. Much like their instrumental output, everything she sings is suitably bouncy and optimistic.
But where she really shines isn’t only the unique way she’s able to turn a clever phrase, but also the way she’s so “on the nose” about it. It’s easy to hear every word she sings, and believe that the lyrics she sings are emotionally tied to her as well as to real events. Everything she sings is direct and to the point, and it’s reinforced and made more effective by means of easily repeatable choruses that openly encourage the audience to yell back at her and her bandmates.
The lyricism and sound behind Candy Hearts’ music serves to emphasize a key aspect of the band. There is absolutely nothing coy about them, and everything the audience needs to know about them is right there up on stage. Nothing is hidden, and everything is front and center for the audience to enjoy, absorb and digest.
That kind of directness is why Candy Hearts is such a sweet band to follow. It’s also a reason while they’ll only continue to grow in popularity and appeal.