A depiction of Candi Carpenter accompanied (or hanted by) demons.

Candi Carpenter

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In an era where music often feels disposable and artists release an album or two every year, Candi Carpenter emerges as a breath of fresh air, demanding attention and offering music that deeply resonates. Demonology (2024) could be described by adjectives ranging from brutal, gentle, subtle, or terrifying. Arguably though, forgiving and forgiveness should be used instead.

We Didn’t Get What We Expected, But…

There are very few artists we’ve covered very often but Candi Carpenter is among the few for many reasons. From releasing a single after single and never an album (just an EP), brutal honesty, to fitting our taste in music. After all, who doesn’t love a little horror story here and there?

We’ve known for a while that after the EP, Demonology Part I (2023; a review still worth a read!), a Part II EP was coming. We didn’t know Part II would simply melt with Part I and form an actual album.

That being said, Carpenter is an artist worth following because the way they handle traumas is beyond compare – great lyrics, each song packed with emotions, and using music to put the finishing touches on each piece.

As a cherry on top, Candi moves freely and easily between genres, always picking the best to accompany their stories, from (dark) pop, and (indie) rock, to much harder sequences – such as ‘Back From the Dead’ or a particular part of ‘Cult’.

From Demonology Part I to Demonology

The album opens with a song that’s “semi-autobiographical, like an MRI of growing up that provides a rapid series of the kinds of memories, experiences, and feelings that shape your insecurities,” as we put it in the review of ‘Exorcist‘. In a similar vein, ‘Cult’ further explores the theme of growing up in a religious family and “what such experience brings – from indoctrination, and learning nonsense, to escaping through music.”

‘Antisocial Butterfly’, ‘Skinny’, and ‘Nervous System‘ explore the theme of various degrees and types of anxiety.

The album doesn’t cover only family relationships, others are covered as well – from abusive ones in ‘Back From the Dead’, in which things turn out sort best they can, and ‘Novels About Vampires’ since it’s “genre-lyricism […] flooded with miniature detail about snapshots of the relationship and all the confused emotion that surrounded it.”

Tooth’, a song about “a friendship breakup [that] is compared to pulling teeth, with a story wrapped around this metaphor that’s a bit of an emotional ride”. There’s also ‘Everybody Goes to Hell’, featuring both family and friends, a song that shows Candi finding a way from under the pressure of her parents’ religious beliefs and finding themselves empowered and free, since as we note, “despite all the trauma, the song is a celebration of making peace with what was and still may be.” 

Other themes represent sexuality in ‘Strawbery Starburst’ (and also slightly touched upon in ‘Everybody Goes to Hell’) or (relationship) insecurity in ‘Serial Killer’.

‘Memento Mori’ closes the album and, wow, what a finale! 

Two examples of how genius the lyrics are:

I spent two years in a mental hospital
And seventy two hours on a suicide hold
It was the first time
In a long time
I’d been held at all


So i’m throwing a funeral
For everything beautiful
I’m burying the past
Like a dog in the yard
We spend our whole lives
Saying our goodbyes
Saying one more
Shouldn’t be that hard
I’m throwing a funeral
I’m throwing a funeral

The chorus is a line drawing kick in the teeth and on the way to something better waiting ahead.

We’re all gonna die, better live a life to the fullest, and sort the shit out as soon as possible. It’s always better to leave the bad stuff behind and look ahead. Unless you want to end up paying for a suicide hold.

I do love this celebration of life, freedom, and mental health.

One of the Most Emotional Journeys Ever Written

If I used adjectives to outline the album in the introduction, there’s no better way to wrap things up.

There are several main – very strong – themes without any doubt. The major one being growing up meets a religion.

Fully or semi-autobiographical, grown-up Candi faces their demons, past, and (likely) present. The album makes you feel what they feel. If it doesn’t, you’re either dead or in the lyrics.

Demonology (2024) is an amazingly powerful emotional ride that makes you laugh, smile, sad, and depressed, and sometimes takes you in a completely different direction.

The album is forgiving and offers forgiveness. Not just to Candi themselves, but to everyone who’s played a part in their life.

Browsing through what we’ve already covered, it’s obvious Phonotonal have become the most reliable Candi Carpenter experts by far.

Written by Vinklarek on

Petr 'Pete' Vinklárek writes mainly about music. Prior to entering the digital industry, he taught Translation Studies & British and American Cinema at a university. In his spare time, he hikes, listens to podcasts, watches films, and writes poetry. Petr studied the English Language and Literature at The University of Ostrava; his master’s thesis covered some aspects of Warren Zevon's work.

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