It has been for a great many a long awaited event and for many more is set to be a new pleasure for their ears. The release of The Patron Saint of Heartache provides the debut album from UK outfit Candy Opera to both sides; a collection of tracks nurtured in the organic musical inspiration of the band’s home city of Liverpool and bearing their own infectious pop individuality upon the senses.
Candy Opera emerged in 1982 and swiftly nestled amongst the likes of Aztec Camera, The Pale Fountains and Prefab Sprout with their warm melody woven pop and ear rousing releases and tracks. Moving through a few line-ups but increasingly drawing new fans and high praise, the band was no more by 1993 though for a short time its members became The Wailing Souls. That was until the release of 45 Revolutions Per Minute by Firestation Records in 2018, a bringing together of those earlier recordings and songs in one archival treat. That was the spark to the band’s return and now a first album bursting with new songs fuelled by that particular Candy Opera pop enterprise and contagion which set them apart back in the day.
The band’s newest assemble is drawn from the different line up’s in the band’s existence, band originals and founders vocalist/guitarist Paul Malone and guitarist Ken Moss joined by guitarist/vocalist Brian Chin Smithers, bassist Frank Mahon, drummer Alan Currie and keyboardist Gary O’Donnell. Together they have weaved a rich tapestry of pop and rock catchiness, an album varied in its flavours and adventure and rich in a sound as reflective of the band in its earlier successes as bold in its new and fresh imagination.
The Patron Saint of Heartache took little time to tease unbridled attention, opener These Days Are Ours immediately entangling ears in an alluring guitar strand as rhythms gently but firmly tempt. Malone’s tones are soon adding to the temptation as to an instinctive catchiness which is quickly manipulating reactions. As O’Donnell’s keys escalate the pleasure with their seductive caresses, the band’s latest single had pleasure in the palms of its hands, the guest backing vocals of Paul Simpson (The Wild Swans/Teardrop Explodes) extra icing.
The great start is followed by the mellower Tell Me When The Lights Turn Green, a piece of melodic reflection which sways like a summer breeze upon the senses as guitars share their own evocative sighs. Maybe less immediate on the passions than its predecessor, time and listens has only escalated its persuasion and potency, triumphs also easily bred by Crash. The third track strolls in with a creative swagger, pop urgent energy and eighties spiced enterprise virulently captivating within one of the album’s loftiest highlights.
Start All Over Again is another which openly sows its seeds in the indie rock and new wave essences of the band’s earlier impact on the Liverpool rock scene yet weaves its own character of new enterprise and temptation with just a slight nod to bands like The Sums while See It Through Your Eyes enticed ears with an earnest heart and an emotive tapestry of textures and emotive intimation. Both tracks became a keen itch under the skin which in its own gentler way so did the acoustically crafted Five Senses, Four Seasons, a track which maybe lingered more than most in the memory.
Also acoustically shaped, Real Life as most tracks resonated in its echo of experience and emotive reflection, growing in body and temptation as its initial slim weave embraced new flavours and essences by the minute before Enemy had us drooling. The track was manna to these ears, its Mighty Lemon Drops like jangle and seemingly Beach Boys inspired harmonies not forgetting a creative drama which reminded of The Wild Swans irresistible. Even with those thick spices the track is thickly Candy Opera and almost alone a strong reason enough to check out the album though the likes of Freedom Song with its own acoustic contemplation and the boisterous escapade of Hashtag Text Delete provide their own striking reasons. The latter of the two is a delicious slice of rockabilly nurtured infection; a touch of early The Brilliant Corners spicing its breath as a [The] Woodentops like creative nagging stimulates its catchiness. It is superb stuff, quickly and firmly becoming our favourite moment within The Patron Saint of Heartache.
Both Rise (If That’s What People Want) with its heated funk and The Redskins-esque soulfulness and the melancholically radiant and joyfully fiery Crazy left rich pleasure in ears and appetite, the second adding another mighty peak to the album’s landscape before a pair of bonus tracks complete the release.
Fifties inspired rock ‘n’ roll is the bed for the restrained but virulent catchiness of Gimme One Last Try while There Is No Love returns to the soul/rockabilly lures of the previously mentioned Redskins for its own moment of riveting Candy Opera individuality, each track a joyful moment to lose one’s thoughts and troubles in.
So that is The Patron Saint of Heartache, a debut album which maybe we never expected to happen but now it has provides thick pleasure and confirmation of Candy Opera’s potent part of Liverpool’s musical history.
The Patron Saint of Heartache is out now via A Turntable Friend Records; available @ https://candyopera.bandcamp.com/album/the-patron-saint-of-heartache
Pete RingMaster 11/12/2020