Candy Darling are a band that we at DAA have taken to our heart. Something in their dark, hypnotic, sleazy nature, their Patti Smith meets Suicide vibe and their exciting yet dangerous persona seems to remind us of that famous quote “if you are not living on the edge, you are taking up too much room.” And Candy Darling are a very edgy band. Now with a video to back up their latest single, Going Straight, it seemed appropriate to revisit their exotic world.
Bristol has been the breeding ground for many a musical movement over the years, from 90’s trip-hop through to its current, prominent wave of post-rock. For me though one of the most interesting sub-genres that seems to be slowly coalescing is formed at a point where garage rock and electro-pop are colliding head on. Already aware of the wonderful New York, no-wave distortions of Candy Darling and the industrial, grunge-goth of Nasty Little Lonely, I can now add to that small movement, the man who goes by the name of Charlton Lane.
Taking hypnotic and claustrophobic beats as a frame he adds jagged garage guitars, scuzzy punked out blues riffs and krautrock experimentation and the result is a gonzoid, splatter-gun take on electro voodoo blues, driven by deep grooves and programmed beats. And it’s glorious. Glorious in it’s ambition, its audaciousness, the way that it finds the coolest musical references from disparate parts of the musical canon and throws them all together to see what holds tight (and then uses a metaphorical hammer to force the rest into it’s designated place.)
As a one man outfit, I’m not sure how this translates to the live show, but then just look at the musical approach of Vienna Ditto and the things you can do with a pile of home made electronic kit, a roll of gaffer tape and a strange musical vision. Even if the full force of the recordings fail to materialise in the live arena, I have a suspicion that Charlton Lane’s failings would still be a much better prospect that many bands runaway successes.
After the electro-fuzzed onslaught of Money, follow up single Going Straight shows a different side of the band, one of restraint and brooding expectation. Here a more spacious musical environment is framed by Mary Chain style tribal beats, slowly burning up towards a razor wire guitar crescendo. Again the references are the confrontational vibe of Patti Smith mixed with the skuzzy, reverb drenched end of New Wave. But forget the skinny-tie, power pop of early eighties London, this is the sound you would find wafting out of Max’s Kansas City made by Bowery chancers and downtown hustlers, punks in the true sense of the word. It is edgy and atmospheric, dangerous and charged with tense ambiguity. It is the sound track to a world inhabited by William Burroughs, The Warhol entourage (hence the bands titular reference) The Heartbreakers, Suicide and Television.
The flip side, Waves, sees the band in more familiar musical territory. No less dark and snarling but also delivered with vocal anguish against a backdrop of smashed guitars and throbbing electronic beats, sudden dynamic drops and musical angst. Again, Candy Darling doing what they do best and proving that referencing past musical glories can be so much more than merely ripping off the odd Beatles or Zeppelin riff.
Plastique operate at a musical crossroads. Roads lead in to their location from electro, industrial, new wave pop and alternative rock and where they all intersect Quake is created, a sizzling blend of darkwave dance and razor-wire guitar riffs. It’s the perfect balance between noise and melody, never getting too caught up in its own industrial soundscapes but always ensuring that the groove is hammered home with the required impact. And as groove and grit fight for control of the song, the programmed drums keep everything grounded to a dark tribal dance beat.
At the other end of the M4 Corridor, Bristol’s Candy Darling are exacting the same sorts of primal screams from their technology and the thought of both of those bands on the same bill is something that someone needs to make a reality.
You could say that Candy Darling are retrospectively futuristic. Their points of reference lie so far back in the musical canon that the cyclical nature of things probably means that they are actually well ahead of the fashion curve. Channelling the sounds of New York no-wave, proto-punk and super strength psychedelia, they come at you like a snarling, attitude fuelled beast, part Patti Smith’s uncompromising drive, part Suicide’s industrial dance experimentations. Dense, pulsating synths and clinical drum beats form a dark, dissonant canvas onto which they pour crunching guitar riffs and fuzzed out walls of noise whilst Emily’s striking voice dreams of getting that big break.
B-side, Temples, is a whole different affair. An impassioned and introverted vocal leads a slow burning build towards a richly layered, sonic crescendo and shows that there is more to the band than just rocking out. More than anything their music sounds dangerous but without compromising the dark beauty that runs through it. For in many ways the music is beautiful; sneering, snarling and often unnerving, but beautiful none the less.