Since releasing their 2016 LP New Futures, Candace (formerly known as Is/Is) has been hard at work on a follow-up, New Ruins. Listening to the Minneapolis-born, Portland-based trio’s latest nine-track offering, it doesn’t take long to figure out which direction Sarah Nienaber (guitar/bass/vocals), Sarah Rose (guitar/bass/vocals), and Mara Appel DesLauriers (drums/vocals) are taking their acid-washed pop.
Opening track “Sunlight” is perhaps the best possible introduction to Candace, masters of the sweetly delivered head-nodding rocker. And despite the inherent gloominess of New Ruins, songs like “Rewind” prove Candace is capable of festooning their moody pop with enough uplifting crescendos and cascading layers to balance everything out.
With plenty of dreamy reverb, the album plays like the internal score for your own coming of age, though its production seems to have taken most of the sharpness away from their vocals. This subdued sonic underbelly often masks the confidence behind songs like “Between the Day and Now,” which still soars, thanks to the band’s triple harmonies always working in “ooh ooh” tandem. Feathery odes like “Waltz” sound as if they were tracked underwater (in a good way) and employ more traditional dream-pop tropes than the rest of the record, while the triumphant title track stands out as perhaps the catchiest moment on New Ruins.
Closing track “Wait Always” finds Candace back where they started on “Sunlight,” at the intersection of resilient melodic pop and cosmic psych rock. But when they loosen the grip a little—as on the more buoyant “Baggy” or the psychotropic sway of “Mendocino”—Candace winds up closer to the edge of what their heavy-lidded lo-fi jams are able to conjure. Proximity to that edge aside, New Ruins is sure to help get you through winter, or any other season when your emotions are liable to get the best of you.