Digital noises shouldn’t sound this alive. Tokyo group Candles resides in the same space occupied by fellow Japanese artists like EeL, Nuxx and √thumm – electronic-swamped outfits not quite as sugary as Perfume, but more than just dancefloor fodder too. They are groups that see both dance music and pop as forms of emotional release, as ways to transcend the hum-drum of daily life, a way of turning the buzzing electronic DNA of the modern world into something achingly human.
Candles’ debut Evolutional Form is completely digital, every sound generated by some sort of digital machine, and even the lead singer’s voice gets swathed in a fuzzy vapor trail. Yet few releases I’ve heard all year sound as fleshy, as vulnerable, as human, as Evolutional Form. Part of it is in the layout of the songs – each of the five songs on this release bounce along on dance-friendly beats towards the chorus, the sort of triumph hooks that, with the right intoxicants, makes you want to throw your hands up in the air deliriously. Candles know the power of a good slogan too, which is why these choruses resonate so strongly – “Stay With Me” peaks with the line “stay with me tonight/I’m losing my mind,” a simple statement but one that cuts straight to a feeling, one that should be familiar to anybody. Each song here, from the pulsing opener “Discovery” to the Euro-beat of closer “My Life,” pushes for an upbeat feeling, sometimes bordering on too much optimism but never overdosing. It’s strangely life affirming.