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CANDY SKINS (Buy CDs by this artist)
Space I'm In (DGC) 1991
Fun? (DGC) 1993
CANDYSKINS
Death of a Minor TV Celebrity (Ultimate/Velvel) 1998

Named for a Fire Engines song, Oxford, England's Candy Skins provide consistently pleasant if far from earthshaking pop'n'roll on Space I'm In. The eleven originals — and a needless cover of Stephen Stills' "For What It's Worth" — are all crammed with jangly guitars, hummable melodies and Nick Cope's slightly edgy lead vocals. The quartet aims to evoke a blissful, happy vibe on such poppy tunes as "Get Together" and "Freedom Bus," but Space I'm In lacks warmth and conviction.

With Pat Collier back as producer and the group upped to a fivesome thanks to the addition of ex-Colourfield bassist Karl Shale, things improve on Fun?. The disc opens with a blast of fiery, Buzzcockian tuneage (the nostalgic "Wembley") and includes nods to the Beatles ("Tired of Being Happy," which sort of nicks the "Paperback Writer" riff) and Stone Roses (the nearly funky, pulsating "Fun"). Overall, the band sounds a lot more comfortable in the studio: the guitars have more bite and the songs grab and hold, especially the pretty "Everybody Loves You," the mournful ballad "All Over Now" and the powerful "Dig It Deep."

[John M. Borack]