When a band has made as much noise in the live arena as Dark Room Notes have, they inevitably face the age-old conundrum of how to recreate the live sound on record. Not an enviable task as most musicians would agree but We Love You Dark Matter comes pretty darn close.
This highly anticipated debut from the Dublin-based newcomers comes after the success of well-known single -Love Like Nicotine’ and the EP Dead Star Program. The result of being holed up in London last summer recording, We Love You Dark Matter is a composed, succinct and polished testament to the foursome’s celebrated electro-rock shows.
From the first listen, We Love You Dark Matter suggests Dark Room Notes have the likes of New Order streaming through their veins. The 1980s are evidently the era par excellence for imitation by a growing number of emerging acts today, yet Dark Room Notes manage to avoid the pretentiousness of their peers, wearing their influences on their sleeve without plagiarising. They fuse the best of 1980s synth pop classics with a more macabre soul, resulting in their own blend of electro rock – an irresistible recipe indeed.
A revamped -Love Like Nicotine’ features as the second track here, a rhythmic and vibrant pop number with a distinctive edge. -Shake Shake My Ceiling’ is an irresistible synth pop tune, undeniably seductive for its entire running time and featuring one of the catchiest choruses to emerge this year so far. Sounding polished to the max without losing its edge, this sublime song is the stand out track of what is a wholly impressive debut. -This Hot Heat’ is emblematic of how this acclaimed outfit succeed in combining such binary opposites – an inherent morbidity with pop sensibilities. Although the music predominates as their best asset, the best songs in terms of vocals feature the careful layering of frontman Ronan Gaughan’s vocals with Arran Murphy’s sweet backing vocals, such as on the subtle and lilting -Fast Flashes/Who Is Isabella Moonlight?’ or on -Broken Nail’. While -Elm’ is underrated musically, to say the least, it does boast the most atmospheric and poetic lyrics of the record. -This Hot Heat’ on the other hand is a real grower, relentless in burrowing its way into your psyche. Lead single -Let’s Light Fires’ is currently doing the rounds on radio and, although it is tucked away as the second last song here, it ensures We Love You Dark Matter goes out on a high point thanks to its stomping chorus. The excellent closing track -Treetops’ features a backdrop of electro at its finest and slowly builds into a memorable yet melancholic chant.
Dark Room Notes are unafraid to embrace their sombre soul and be angst-ridden (-Broken Nail’) but their music carries a hypnotic energy that jumps to the foreground throughout. Ronan Gaughan’s breathy, half whisper vocals can be accused of having the same approach vocally to every song which grates a little. But thanks to the synthesised precision going on in the background, limited vocals don’t lead to the record being predictable.
After devoting an entire day during the recording process to each tune in order to tweak them to perfection, Dark Room Notes have succeeded in their mission to create an album that can stand side by side with their live performance. This foursome are distinctly non-Irish in sound and for a band so new (despite seeming as though they’ve been around much longer thanks to their extended stint on the live circuit) they have managed to create a musically flawless record.