Seven studio albums into a decade-plus career as Mice Parade, Adam Pierce is in a reflective mood: “Never mind what you know / It’s only what you believe in / As the grey hairs start to show,” he sings on “This River Has A Tide,” a new song from the upcoming Candela.
Following Pierce’s musical road to grey is a path that traverses shoegaze, twee-strumentals, low-fi electronica and post-rock. In recent years, Mice Parade has evolved into a kind of globetrotting indie-pop with an eclectic palette, setting Brazilian Tropicália and West African highlife alongside distorted, noisy guitarscapes. On Candela (out Jan. 29) Pierce continues this practice of sourcing sounds from abroad as he weaves bursts of pop into the passionate and emotional world of Spanish flamenco.
Pierce takes us on a journey, cajon in hand, to the flamenco bar in Madrid that gives the album its name: Candela, where “each tile on the floor tells a tale / where I can still hear the Gypsy bands wail.” It’s also the site of a romantic rendezvous that will later unravel.
The bar Candela isn’t the only far-off destination on the album. At the halfway point, Pierce pauses for a breather in otherworldly “The Chill House,” where warm Chinese harp meets icy cool beats. And much later, the closing track “Warm Hand In Narnia” is all indie-rock storm and bluster set against ruminations about a love in limbo, “I told you from the first start that mine is not a cold heart,” he sings.
Pierce’s strength lies in his writing and arranging, and at times his unadorned voice feels exposed. But he finds his foil in Caroline Lufkin’s high, girlish peal (a voice reminiscent of Kazu Makino of Blonde Redhead and Buke and Gase’s Arone Dyer) throughout the album, including the propulsive “Currents,” the rhythmically dense and aggressive “Pretending” and “Las Gentes Interesantes” which adds a bit of Afro-Cuban syncopation and brass.
On Candela, Pierce adds some more pages to his musical passport while drawing further on his indie-pop past, with a surprising, appealing result.