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Candice Gordon – “Garden of Beasts” Review

Dark anthems of love, hate and illusion
Candice Gordon
Candice Gordon

Candice Gordon is an artist I place firmly into the women who rock category. Her debut album Garden of Beasts takes on many forms and noises over its 13 tracks but the current of big rock is the constant that pushes it through.

After the scene setting instrumental “The Herd”, it’s a deep grizzly riff that pushes “Smoke in the Air” through like a b-movie horror. Candice’s vocal has a deep resonance to it that reminds me on occasion of PJ Harvey in her lower register. The psychedelia level intensifies over the five-minute track and lets Gordon let out war cries of pain over blossoms of guitar noise and keyboard effects. It’s big and juicy, and that b-movie evilness carries through to the kooky “Hive Mind” which has a surfer rock arpeggio tinkling away behind a heavy rock number. The clash of the two makes me think of Suzi Quatro and Siouxie and the Banshee’s love child as it explodes from a dark brood into a glorious chanting chorus and back again with ease. The fabulous “I Belong to the Night” is also an instant classic. It’s Americana twang to its dark edges gives it an accessible edge and its instantly catchy. It’s perfectly paired with the more jangle filled “Nobody” which has a great two-step stomp rhythm to its self-deprecating lyrics that send up all kinds of self loving people, but most of all herself too.

“The Child” starts the quieter middle section of the album with sultry guitar riffs, muted drums and it lets Candice’s powerful voice take centre stage and command it before the track explodes into a frenzied second half. “Tomorrow” is the ballad on the album, but its full of effects, siren-like backing vocals, meshes of electric guitars chiming over each other. It’s not an immediate track, but it holds an emotional space that keeps you returning. Especially because “The Kill” is an ambient noise siren of guitar feedback and vocal distortion before the chugging “Freedom, a Beautiful Illusion” limps in sounding tired, wrought and collapsing. I mean this in a good way. It’s tense rumble makes every line sound like a statement of intent, as instruments quiver and detune slightly behind each lyric. It’s a small trick of production, but it really adds to the atmosphere of the track.

“The Laws of Nature” is the most straightforward rock track on the album and is very radio friendly – reminding me of early 90’s pop rock at times. “Goddess of Mercy” is a cinematic track that starts quiet and builds like a pray for the helpless before lamenting the destruction it’s created for the final minute or so at the end. It’s beautiful as well as heartbreaking, and shows a very different side that the album hadn’t covered. The flute-tastic “Flocks” feels like we’re about to end on a really out there finale but actually “In Golden Dreams” is a slow burning waltz that is hushed, gentle and alluring.

There’s plenty of darkness in Candice Gordon’s debut album and so much potential I can see in her future. “Garden of Beasts” covers many different things and nod towards an even wider palette of rock she’d like to explore. That leaves me excited to see what’s to come in the future as she can write some amazing rock out tracks. More darkness please!

Recommended Track : I Belong to the Night

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