Built on Josh Lattanzi’s songwriting, The Candles’ Between the Sounds is a firm, pleasant record of twangy and relaxed, unexceptional rock that calls to mind visions of small towns and affable diners on dusty roads. The trouble, I guess, is that it’s hard to tell if its blandness is worthy of admiration or not.
If Lattanzi’s name sounds familiar, it’s because he’s worked with acts like Ben Kweller, Tinted Windows, and the Lemonheads. The Candles gives Lattanzi a chance in the sun and he makes the most of it, surrounding himself with solid musicians in Jason Roberts, Matt Pynn, Alex Levy and Pete Caldes.
The music is snug, almost exceptionally so, and The Candles even venture towards some good ol’ country music on occasion. Everything they play comes off naturally and Lattanzi’s affectionate, welcoming vocals are akin to having a light conversation with a good friend.
Of course, Between the Sounds doesn’t particularly break any new ground and the soothing sort of roots-rock feel often feels more Gin Blossoms than convincing alt-folk group. It’s no secret that Lattanzi has learned from guys like Evan Dando, but a lack of musical risk keeps this album safer than it needs to be.
“Waiting for the Truth” kicks things off well enough with a rolling bit of guitar and Lattanzi’s pliable, faint vocal tones. It’s a predictable, poppy bouncer, but it’s satisfying enough.
“Here or Gone” might be the best track on Between the Sounds. Its guitar vibe almost manages some edge and Lattanzi’s homage to roots rock really works nicely, creating a fun road-trip song for a compilation.
After the initial setup tracks, it’s clear that The Candles have become very comfortable with their style. Tracks like “Let Me Down Easy” and the title track are barely-there songs that are destined to waft into the background. And “On My Side” seems to just float.
Make no mistake about it, a record of comfy, mild, fundamental rock is what these cats set out to make and in that respect they nail the recipe. The problem comes when that comfort leaks its way into featureless terrain, making Between the Sounds little more than just another well-ventilated, twangy crumb of neo-country and roots rock.