Album Reviews

Shapes And Sizes – Candle To Your Eyes

(Asthmatic Kitty) UK release date: 6 September 2010

Shapes And Sizes are a four-piece from Montreal. They’re signed to Asthmatic Kitty, the imprint of Christian twee-mongerer Sufjan Stevens.�Their publicity photos depict a group of whey-faced individuals – some sprouting facial hair, others clutching flowers.� But Shapes And Sizes aren’t a typical sensitive indie band.�Their third album, Candle To Your Eyes, is a bold, ballsy piece of work which flirts engagingly with funk, R&B, and even reggae.

Traditional song craft isn’t Shapes And Sizes’ strong suit.�The nine tracks on Candle To Your Eyes don’t boast big hooks or catchy choruses.�Instead, their songs are prone to going off on unexpected detours.�Along the way, there are plenty of details to enjoy, such as Time Has Practically Stopped’s nimble guitar work, Too Late For Dancing’s stalking, menacing bassline, and the title track’s hyperactive finale.

Yet, despite the exploratory nature of Shapes And Sizes’ music, listening to the album never becomes hard work.�That’s because the skilled, confident musicianship and uncluttered production means that everything here sounds quite deliberate.� It’s like being led down winding alleyways by a knowledgeable cab driver: the ride may be tortuous, but no one’s being led astray.

Celia Thompson-Hannant and Rory Seydel share vocal duties on Candle To Your Eyes at a ratio of seven-to-two respectively.�Thompson-Hannant has the stronger voice by far; she has a confident, arresting delivery and even shows off some soulful chops on the closer Old Worlds.�Seydel, however, shares Bright Eyes‘ Conor Oberst’s perma-anguished, adolescent-sounding delivery.�Whenever he sings, the album is dragged into a more recognisably indie-rock – and hence less interesting – world, and his partner is greatly missed.

Candle To Your Eyes isn’t an album that’s going to reach out to the casual music consumer.�There’s no easy entry point, and it doesn’t rely on any obvious attention-grabbing tricks.� But, for the inquisitive listener willing to put the effort in, Shapes And Sizes have plenty to offer.

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