This October saw the Toronto-based band the Darcys deliver their first offering on the Arts & Crafts label. Produced by Murray Lightburn of the Dears, this self-titled album is filled with moody and textured atmospheric songs, so you’d think that the Darcys would be right up there alongside their indie label mates — wrong. Now, as a person I can sympathize with the frustrating struggles the Darcys have been through previously. You record an album, then your singer quits, you decide to continue the band, you re-record vocals, you remix, you rearrange, etc.. But as a listener, I can’t. They should have cut their losses rather than salvaging this release.
The opener, “100 Mile House,” sets the stage sonically with the use of layered keyboards, loops and guitars echoing beneath frontman Jason Couse’s soft vocals. This fades into the drum driven beats of “Don’t Bleed Me” and further solidifies the song formula the Darcys have chosen to create their atmo-rock sound. Unfortunately, by the third song, “House Built Around Your Voice,” the formula begins to falter and leaves the listener wanting something different. The album continues with the Radiohead-esque lead single “Shaking Down the Old Bones.”
Next comes the brilliant “Edmonton to Purgatory,” the standout of the album, and it plays like the soundtrack to fighting an unrelenting desperation. “The Mountains Make My Way” is an agonizingly slow track that eventually elevates, a little too late, into a wall of sound. “Des Animaux” has Couse sounding like a softer and milder version of Ville Valo from Finnish rock band HIM, but the song still continues uneventfully. The band’s formula appears to be most successful on “Glasnost” with its well-blended use of instruments. “I Will Be Light” sees Clouse taking a cue from the vocal styling and haunting atmospherics of Thom Yorke.
The album closes with “When I Am New Again,” which follows suit like every other song off the album. And then, it’s over. It’s an album that feels like the same song over and over, using the same formula over and over. In the end, it’s no surprise why they are giving away their album on their website for free. But free doesn’t always mean good.
★★ (out of five)