Review : Darker My Love - Alive As You Are
PitchforkWhen your band's trajectory starts to resemble that of Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, that's likely not a good thing-- hell, at this point, I'm sure the members of BRMC would even agree. Whether intentionally or unwittingly, though, Darker My Love are taking plenty of cues from them. Just as BRMC put out a decent debut (2001's B.R.M.C.) and a samey, not-so-decent follow-up (2003's Take Them On, On Your Own), Darker My Love's 2006 self-titled debut was a just-okay neo-shoegaze affair, while 2008's holy-shit-is-that-really-the-title 2 was a tepid sophomore effort that felt monochrome and dulled-over.
If the timeline holds true, Darker My Love's third album would be a stripped-down reinvention á la BRMC's own game-changer, 2005's Howl. Lo and behold, Alive As You Are, ditches the delay pedals, obscured vocals, and squalls of noise for acoustic guitars, sweetly sung harmonies, and open-road clarity. Just as their previous two efforts pilfered repeatedly from long-in-the-tooth veteran bands the Brian Jonestown Massacre and the Dandy Warhols, Alive As You Are mines the 1960's folk-rock canon with a near-dopey lack of shame. If the Dylan-esque vocal aping on opening track "Backseat" doesn't make you blush for these guys' sake, try the following cut, "Split Minute", which is basically the Byrds' "Turn! Turn! Turn!" sans any trace of the original's euphoric payoff.
After a supreme early demonstration of pastiche, Alive As You Are's back half reveals a capable pop band writing capable pop songs. Ignore the slow-drawled intro of "Trail The Line" and you'll find the best Lemonheads jangler that band never wrote within. "Dear Author"'s psych-out breakdowns are satisfying in a would-be Top 40 way, while "A Lovely Game" benefits from the record's clear-headed sound via its swooning vocal interplay....full text
GuardianIf the band name raises eyebrows, it's worth knowing that Darker My Love's Tim Presley named his group after a song by 80s US goth-punks TSOL a lifetime ago. You'd be hard pressed to hear the influence here, however. DML's extremely pleasant third album is an unexpected curio – a psychedelic record with great affection for the Byrds and the Beatles, but played with the discipline and pithiness of former punks. Songs such as "18th Street Shuffle" evince a little glam too, making for a beguiling period piece that never fully commits to wearing paisley....full text
IndielondonQUESTION: Do we really need another psychedelic rock outfit with obvious nods to The Beatles and Oasis? Answer: If they’re as good as Darker My Love then hell yes!
The follow up to the Los Angeles-based band’s breakthrough sophomore album 2, which received across-the-map critical acclaim for its mind-bending neo-psychedelic grooves and hazily anthemic hooks, Alive As You Are is a near faultless collection of songs that revel in their retro vibe and laidback rockin’ tendencies.
As the band’s PR suggests, the 13 songs that make up Alive As You Are are marked by bold songcraft and earthy, intricate arrangements that further illuminate the band’s myriad classic influences.
Stripping away the fuzz and distortion of past records, the band allowed their unfortunate real life experiences to take centre stage with honest songwriting and put a heavy emphasis on personal healing.
The end result displays a warmth that may not always have been present in their songwriting, and which underlines Darker My Love’s growing position among the brightest lights in the long, lysergic history of West Coast psychedelic rock.
Needless to say, the hits fly thick and fast. Backseat is a country-tinged slice of warm psychedelia that seems dedicated to West Coast cruising (with the hood down), while Split Minute is a dream-like ‘60s influenced slice of pop-rock that effortlessly gets your head nodding along in appreciation. If you like Teenage Fanclub or Dinosaur Jr, or The Kinks, this is a song for you....full text
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