This is sort of an odd record, but it's really fun. I don't mean odd in that it just sounds weird -- Candy Opera are a sparkling, jangly new wave pop band. No, what is weird is the story of how this record exists.
Apparently Candy Opera were playing around Liverpool during the 80s. They opened for 80s bands you've heard of, made a few records, and then parted ways as a local band that never just took off. There are millions such acts throughout the world.
And then sometime within the past 5 years or so, a record label out of Berlin tracked them down to re-issue their relatively obscure catalog. That happened in 2018, and now, inexplicably, the band have recorded a new album. And, well, it's fun 80s style pop.
I bet you could slip one of the songs on this album into a playlist of early 80s guitar bands (Aztec Camera, R.E.M., The Church, The Go-Betweens, early INXS, etc.) and no one would notice. In fact, i bet a lot of 80s survivors would look thoughtful for a minute and then try and place the band, trusting that the name just wouldn't come because of the leaking memory brought on by our advanced ages.
It hits that "John Hughes movie soundtrack" kind of sweet spot. Let's go over some highlights.
Opener The Days Are Ours is a song that plays like a low-key Adorable song, all sparkling guitars and crisp vocals in odd British pronunciation. Keyboards sparkle and the song sways happily.
Crash jangles aggressively and reminds me of The Gin Blossoms. Candy Opera are not as depressing as that Arizona band though, they pair upbeat pop (here complete with an 80s saxophone solo in the middle) with lyrics that aren't doom and gloom. This bounces along nicely.
Real Life starts off with strummed acoustic for some folkishness, before the band comes in with bluesy electric guitar and a happy little melody. This one reminds me a bit of Dire Straits.
Candy Opera throw down on Hashtag Text Delete. Obviously the title and lyrics are trying to fit in with the new world, but the rhythm is furious here and they add in harmonica and a bit of distortion on the voice for a rollicking messy tune.
It's a good record on the whole. It's a shame that Candy Opera had to wait so long to record it, but it is a work that they should be proud of. And one that fans of 80s pop will enjoy.