The British duo does the ol' "happy songs/sad lyrics" thing, ends up with a great pop album.
"A guilty pleasure for deep thinkers" is how Candle Thieves describe themselves on their MySpace page, and they certainly know themselves well. Setting downcast, sometimes fatalistic lyrics to chirpy, happy pop songs is hardly a new conceit, but you'll rarely hear it working so well. With plenty of vintage synths, toy pianos, and beat boxes, Sunshine & Other Misfortunes is whimsical, all right, but most of these songs still get at the heart.
At times recalling a really good boy band, XTC, and even Steely Dan, Candle Thieves make pondering death, as on "We're All Gonna Die (Have Fun)" about as joyous as can be. The life-breathing, choir-like chorus of "Breathing" is a particular highlight of an album that never wears out its welcome. Sunshine & Other Misfortunes figures to be one of the year's best pop releases, and that's nothing to feel guilty about at all.