Candy Warpop’s new album reviewed
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Candy Warpop’s new record, Transdecadence, is a throwback to the obscure vein of “alternative” rock that bands like Concrete Blonde and The Cult mined in the 1980s and 1990s, falling somewhere between hard-edged psychedelia and ferocious goth; sort of like The Cure or The Church, with more testicular fortitude. It’s a bold point of reference to work from, in this smiley-faced era of sunny, twee indie anthems and chilly electro-pop.
Within the well-defined boundaries of this form, Transdecadence performs exceedingly well: pounding drums, arpeggiating guitars, ominous string sections, and above it all, singer Amy Pate’s versatile voice, which recalls both the sweet menace of Miranda Sex Garden’s Katharine Blake and PJ Harvey’s feral howl, often in the same song. It’s too sensual to be lumped in with riot grrrl acts like Babes In Toyland or Hole, but it’s not a million miles away, either.
Unfortunately, the power of Pate’s gorgeous vocals is undercut by the slick, LA-style production and arrangements, which file down any real rough edges or eccentricities. It would be interesting to hear Candy Warpop in the hands of someone like Peter Katis (Interpol, The National) or even Steve Albini, whose work on Harvey’s Rid of Me was a masterpiece of sonic chaos. Transdecadence sounds extremely professional, but professionalism just isn’t a signal virtue in rock and roll anymore.
But there’s no denying that there’s something interesting here, if Candy Warpop can fight the urge to comb their hair and tuck in their shirt, sonically speaking. This isn’t the kind of music that gets in the Top 40 anymore — if it ever did — but it’s the kind that people can fall in love with, and in this post-Napster era, can you really ask for anything more?
CD release party, with Mercy Music, Tiger Sex, Spidersilk, Thursday, Aug. 15, 8 p.m., Backstage Bar and Billiards, 601 E. Fremont, backstagebarandbilliards.com, $11