“Never mind what you know// It’s only what you believe in// As the grey hairs start to show” opens Candela’s third track This River Has A Tide. On the basis of what follows, Mice Parade believe in themselves and little else. Playing a brainy fusion of post rock, jazz, ambient and folk, this 10th album from Mice Parade shows no signs of conceding to the mainstream – however, the success of fellow awkward Americans Grizzly Bear and Animal Collective may just mean that the mainstream has edged a little closer to them, perversely making this collection of occasionally uncompromising musical tapestries their most commercial to date. Ahhhh, The joys of sticking to your guns…
The majority of Candela lurches through time signatures like a waltzing drunk, tracks futilely trying to grab their own tail, Adam Pierce’s percussion constantly high in the mix and tumbling over itself in abandon. Everything clatters and shakes through a wobbling sheen of reverb, the opening songs of the album pushing on your ears until the sudden calm of fifth track The Chill House. This plucked clockwork fantasy strips away the busy instrumentation, and negotiates minimal Oriental pastiche and freak folk. It’s unique and quite beautiful. Next comes the title track, a narrative of a relationship falling apart in Europe, set to chittering Flamenco guitar. If anything it finishes a touch too quickly, fading too fast into the delicate (and, in its own right, not unwelcome) rhythmic convolutions of instrumental Look See Dream Me. The album then meanders towards a close, finding time to include the flamboyantly bonkers Bat-For-Lashes-gone-salsa of Gentle Intersante , and the wintery shoegaze of the wonderfully named Warm Hand in Narnia, before ending on La Lunita Ha Crecido, which has a vaguely inexplicable rap delivered halfway through.
It’s a credit to the bands songwriting that the constant shifting sands seems to find some cohesion throughout Candela, and although the constant tempo switches do at times threaten to become wearying, Pierce and co manage to pull it off, creating a peculiarly dream like atmosphere. where the random seems utterly natural. 14 years into their career, and ‘as the grey hairs start to show,’ Mice Parade may have made the album that propels them firmly centre stage