With a thunderous clap of the drums, we start down the mystic river of melodies that will eventually form the backbone of AV Super Sunshine’s “Candyland (Rock Mix),” the first of two mixes offered from the cryptic pop musician in his latest single and follow-up to the Candyland, Vol. 1 album. Even inside of the first ten seconds of “Candyland (Rock Mix),” it’s hard to resist the urge to synchronize our hips to the sly groove of the drums and the adjoining string play that colorizes their every beat. When AV starts to sing, his voice melts into the fabric of the instrumentation as if to suggest that they’re two sides of the same coin – he the words, it the context. This mix is rife with more duality that any other track that AV Super Sunshine has released under this zany moniker, but while it’s a multifaceted symphony of pop charm and rock confidence, I don’t think that it stretches the talents of its star too thin at all; quite the opposite, really.
“Candyland (Dance Party Mix)” (a.k.a. the “Radio Mix”) starts off with a lot less adrenaline than the rock mix does, but its cathartic glow isn’t minimized by the lack of conventional frills. Slowly but surely, the music churns us into a vortex of golden notes and mild string melodies that won’t take their complete shape until we’re more than ninety-seconds into the song. There’s no turning back once we’ve started this mix – even at their most ominous, the understated harmonies that circle us like sharks waiting to go in for the kill are hypnotic, and trying to ignore their seductive style is like trying to pretend that an earthquake isn’t taking place beneath your feet when it really is.
This is the longer of the two versions of “Candyland,” but it doesn’t feel bloated or even the least bit overextended. The main contrast between the rock mix and the radio mix has little to do with the actual cosmetics of either track and most everything to do with the means in which AV unleashes them onto us. Where one comes at the audience with everything it’s got only moments after the bell rings, the other slow-plays us, drawing us nearer with its fine textures and rich tonality before finally dragging us asunder.
I’ve come to expect a lot out of AV in the last year, but this elusive performer has outdone himself in his latest release. Though it’s primarily a front for what has become a very noteworthy solo career and collaborative project, AV Super Sunshine is making the kind of music that more traditional rock and pop groups seemingly haven’t been able to in the last half of the decade. His dedication is evident in everything that he attaches this handle to, and though he set the bar pretty high with now-classic hits like “Are You Happy” and the equally stunning “Smile,” there’s no debating whether or not “Candyland” raises it even higher for both this brand and the eclectic scene that spawned it. The future is bright for AV Super Sunshine, and this pair of mixes essentially confirms as much.
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