Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Darker My Love's "2": Music Review

.Psychedelic in texture, shoegazing in attitude, and accessible in scope, this L.A. indie band delivers a solid album. It reminded me strongly of The Verve, but without Richard Ashcroft's tortured artist syndrome. The vocals tend to support the song, rather than overwhelm the melody or separate themselves from the ensemble. Four stars only since I think they'll continue to progress and deepen into this delightful direction of sophisticated, swaggering and silky sonic seduction.

No John Leckie epic production, as this is on a small label and probably recorded on a tight budget, yet it sounds hefty when it should and delicate when it would. Harmonies, as on "Two Ways Out" & "Pale Sun," soften the punch of the punkish segue that later hammers home "All the Hurry and Wait" rising into "Waves." Midway through the album, "White Composition," although not to my tastes, allows the momentum of the thunderous opening to ease into an Arthur Lee & Love evocation for a few feathery minutes before the album again begins to crest and roar into guitars, bass, drums, and keyboard embellishment.

The Beatles, risky as it may be, around the White Album may also echo. My son's good ears also picked up the intelligent, studious yet not imitative craft of another band of sonic re-creators, The Soundtrack of Our Lives. Like TSOOL, Darker My Love overcome a perhaps awkward name with a love of a period when an ambitious pop song could rule the airwaves at least for a few months. DML's intricate, yet streamlined rather than fussy, arrangements of their songs allow them to build up and amble down according to mood. Their attention to a polished production and an effort where all the band integrates into a larger whole speaks well for inheritors of a classic rock sound that does not alienate a pop-oriented listener while appealing to an adventurous lover of obscurer influences.

DML filters the neo-psychedelic era too. As mentioned with The Verve, the late 80s-early 90s also are captured in a more dominant, post-punk schooled delivery. The probably harrowing and enjoyable (in equal amounts?) stint of part of the band when they were suddenly recruited from opening act to backing musicians for yet-another line-up of The Fall during their last American tour does not appear to have resulted in any Mark E. Smith homage, however. The density, on the other hand, of a scrappy, smart garage band who loves Can may be one area of overlap between L.A.'s club favorites and Manchester's indie stalwarts. (You can hear the DML's contribution to the Fall Sound on their album "Reformation Post-TLC.")

DML's not a shoegazing revival group, but they share that genre's devotion to a larger sound that manages to be big without being heavy. Although not as austere or droning as Black Mountain's debut or "Into the Future" or two records by The Black Angels (all four also reviewed by me), Darker My Love may represent yet another promising contender for this generation's psychedelic vanguard. Enter their swirling, layered construction and you will welcome their direct desire to stack up sounds that you can sink into.

(Posted to Amazon today.)

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