The Holy Mess - Cande Ru Las Degas (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

The Holy Mess

Cande Ru Las Degas (2012)

Red Scare

This is it. Everything the Holy Mess have put out so far has built to this moment. All the shows and 7"s and here we finally are…the first Holy Mess full-length. Coming a year after their pretty dang awesome self-titled compilation, Cande Ru Las Degas (or "Lives of the Red Candle," or "Thing I Can't Remember") nearly capitalizes on all that momentum. Nearly.

There's no way around it; the Holy Mess have slowed down a little bit here and in the process sacrificed what made them so fun in the first place: sloppy, rapid fire drunk-punk. Sometimes the trade works out, like on the throaty, grooving "Asleep in a Room Full of Dog Shit," but overall, the hooks showcased on The Holy Mess are missing. What's here is still very much in the same vein, but with a shifting focus on mood. Cande is a little heavier, a little darker, even a little country on "A Song For Tim Browne to Sing." It's good stuff, but there's going to be a little bit of fallout over this record.

That's not to say the album is necessarily brooding and mid tempo; it isn't. In fact, there are still plenty of barnburners, like "The Saddest Girl to Ever Hold a Martini" and "Cold Goodbyes," teased earlier this year on a preview digital EP. While the record toys with experimentation, there's still a whole lot of Midwest Org punk-indebted rocking going on.

Honestly, I get the same feeling listening to this that I did with On the Impossible Past by their neighbors the Menzingers: I like it. I don't love it. I feel like my opinion won't truly solidify until the next record comes out. Which is to say that Cande shows these hints of wanting to be something else. The Holy Mess could easily veer off into some sort of crust metal whatever project, or just turn into Lucero, and I wouldn't mind at all. These possibilities hammer home that even though I've been listening to the Holy Mess for a few years now, this is, ya know…their first record. There's still room for growth and what-not. Cande is a solid first full-length, and while it doesn't quite surpass the band's early material, it's still very much part of a beginning.