Flowers Must Fade
From the moment drummer Ivo Thomann kicks off proceedings, it doesn’t take long to realise that Bo Candy & His Broken Hearts’ second album “Flowers Must Fade” marks another step up from their already magnificent debut released in 2011. Following those first few beats, singer, guitarist and keyboardist Thomas Pronai, bassplayer/vocalist Judith Filimonova and guitarists Julian Schneeberger and Patrick Stürböth join in to launch into an irresistibly funky riff, getting the album well under way and easily catching (and holding) the listener’s attention. The album’s title track already provides ample evidence of main songwriter Pronai’s claims about the general direction of the ten new songs: “Musically, it’s more uplifting, lighter in tone.”
On the second song “Trojan Horse” the band gains further momentum, hammering home a classic R&B-stomper whose lyrics befit the format: “Then you took my blood and drank it like wine.”
In a glorious way, it sounds as if Bo Candy & His Broken Hearts were revealing themselves to be close relatives of the early Blues Explosion or even the early Stones. Recorded 90 per cent live in Pronai’s own analogue studio, this record is the work of an amazingly focused band. While each of its members is also involved in other musical projects, whenever Bo Candy and his Broken Hearts get together to play, they really go for it, squeezing the most out of their voices and various instruments at any given moment. In fact, their playing is so instinctively of one mind that they record their playback tracks straight onto stereo tape, cutting out any temptation to upset the natural balance of their sound in the mix.
As the album unfolds, the assured sequencing of the album adds depth and soul alongside all the experience musicianship, the first two songs being followed by “Two Hearts”, a welcome chance for a slow dance, for loving couples and lonely souls alike, a change of pace that works almost like magic. This clear vision of their own music is also reflected in the way Bo Candy and his Broken Hearts use the LP format to full effect, creating two different sides that are still held together by an inner logic.
For all their different layers and twists, the first five tunes on side A, mainly written by Pronai, go together like pearls on a thread, with the side-closing “Scars of Age” preceded by the standout track “Until The End”, a potential hit song, not least because of the lyrical wisdom of its powerful chorus: “Don’t waste your time on lovers/Don’t waste your time on friends/I say, hold on to your enemies/They are true until the end.”
On side B, “A Prayer”, “With You”, “She Will Be With Him”, “The Seagulls” and “Personal Savior” open up the sound and musical possibilities of Bo Candy & His Broken Hearts, having been written by different members of the band and by Ernst Molden (“The Seagulls”), who is sometimes hailed as Vienna´s Leonard Cohen.
The most outstanding track here has to be “With You”, written and sung by Judith, and proving that music that is rooted in Rhythm & Blues can still find common ground with twitchy new wave or post-punk, not to mention the song’s obvious pop appeal “Seagulls” is another highlight, While recording the original for Ernst Molden’s solo album at his studio, Thomas Pronai had taken a mental note to have the song translated into English and give it a full band treatment. Acclaimed musician and journalist Robert Rotifer, who also wrote the sleeve notes for the album cover, not only translated the lyrics from Viennese German but also laid down some mean guitar with the band.
One of the essential strengths of the album is the way the mostly dark lyrics (heartbreak galore, love unfulfilled, death and loss in general, the Blues in full effect) and the music work together. It seems that the bleakest lyrical moments call for the most uplifting, life-affirming music. Songs seem to move in on the listener, especially the slow ones like “Two Hearts”, “Scars Of Age” or “She Will Be With Him”. And yet, at the end “Personal Savior” delivers a very tender, warm good-bye, and while you find yourself ready to trust the singer’s heart-felt promise (“I’ll wait on the sidelines like a spider in its web/I’ll throw you a guideline, when you stumble close to the edge”) you also realise the point this album makes.
It’s true, all flowers everywhere, at any time, will and must fade. But to do so, they must have been in bloom before. Bo Candy & His Broken Hearts are in full bloom on “Flowers Must Fade”.