Blank Tapes do best." /> L.A. Record


July 3rd, 2018 | Album reviews

People In A Position To Know

After so many years, I’m amazed that the Blank Tapes’ Matt Adams can come up with pop melodies that seem so indelible and natural and timeless, while not actually being rip-offs of previous hits—like how was this not already a song before he came up with it? How is he able to come up with new combinations of notes and chords that feel so organic and catchy and hooky without basically sampling or stealing old hits? It’s one (maybe easier?) thing to make an experimental avant-garde album sound different and unique, but to record pop songs that don’t obliviously mimic past singles is pretty impressive. It’s just damn catchy music, and he’s been reliably doing it for a while. On Candy there are connections to—but not copies of—longtime Adams inspirations like the Kinks and the sweeter Doug Yule-era Velvet Underground, especially on the title track, but then there are moments that bring to mind the Jesus and Mary Chain’s Darklands (“Feels Like Summer”) and even those old-school Pink Floyd/Grateful Dead cosmic instrumentals, too. Candy starts with “Paradise” and ends with “Other Places,” and if you want to take that as an indication that the Blank Tapes figured out how to go past even paradise, I wouldn’t argue too fiercely. By the time the album is done, we’d both probably be floating in space, anyway. Candy isn’t exactly overtly groundbreaking but I don’t always want groundbreaking—what I want now more often than anything is an expert songwriter’s understanding of hooks and melody that can get to the center of my brain and make me feel like life could be OK, if only for the short time I’m listening. Not everything has to be Brechtian alienation. Some things just make you feel better, and that’s what the Blank Tapes do best.

—Tom Child