Seemingly born out of the same riot grrrl nostalgia that launched a thousand subscriptions to Bust magazine, Candy Hearts' third album, 2014's All the Ways You Let Me Down, is a hooky, punk-influenced record showcasing the personal, diary-esque pop of singer/guitarist Mariel Loveland. Although formed while Loveland was in college in 2009, Candy Hearts make the kind of sweetly rambunctious, thoughtful pop that bands like Letters to Cleo, Blake Babies, Tsunami, and Throwing Muses did in the late '80s and '90s. The band's press describes them as something along the lines of Taylor Swift meets the Breeders, which ends up being a fairly useful comparison. Cuts like the leadoff "I Miss You" and "The Dream's Not Dead" are punchy, simply crafted songs that also bring to mind the sound of such '90s pop-punk stalwarts as blink-182. Perhaps that shouldn't come as a surprise as the album was produced by the band's label owner, New Found Glory guitarist Chad Gilbert. Having spent over a decade crafting NFG's own brand of catchy punk, Gilbert (who also earns a handful of co-writing credits here) clearly has a strong sense of the sound Candy Hearts are going for. Loveland, with her sweet, unassuming voice and confessional lyrics, is a punk princess poster girl in the making, and cuts like the anthemic title track and the snarly "Fool's Gold" should go a long way toward making that happen. Part of the band's charm is Loveland's inclination for phrases that dig into the twenty-something female perspective. Primarily, that perspective is all about how smart women have to deal with cute boys who can't make up their minds. In "Michigan," she sings, "You're upstairs in your room in your bed/Going over the things you said/And I don't know what you're thinking." But Loveland also has a knack for highlighting those little mundane details that seem so hugely important to us in our youth. In "Top of Our Lungs," she sings "In the pocket of my jeans/Some messages you sent/That I can't bear to delete/A note on my arm/In permanent marker/From when we were standing outside the bar." Ultimately, it's those romantic details sung with sincerity and a dash of infectious, female-empowered punky 'tude that make All the Ways You Let Me Down work.
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AllMusic Review by Matt Collar