They’re psychedelic, eloquent noise-and-guitar connoisseurs. Effect-laden guitars are their speciality, and a talent they’ve honed, tweaked and altered since James Young and Aiden Whalley formed Darkstar in 2007. The latest serving from the trio is an easy listen compared to their 2010 debut album, North – less murky, distorted synth textures to stomach, and more ambient. Not that distortion isn’t the best thing ever, but sometimes, first thing of morning, it can be a bit overwhelming.
Opener ‘Light Body Clock Starter’ is a slow intro: waves of sounds, building, and swirling into James Buttery’s vocals. This first track gives way to Darkstar’s softer dimension. The second track, ‘Timeaway’, is quick, a mood elevator, similar to Animal Collective’s ‘Peacebone’. ‘Armonica’ is another amazing track, with twinges of noise pop, an inventive textured listen, again similar to AC’s early stuff.
The album’s move away from their heavy synth origins, is a marked shift toward more melodic pop, with strings and piano added to the mix. The addition of James Buttery’s distorted vocal harmonies gives their sound a mainstream palatability, with traditional structured verse and chorus. ‘A Day’s Pay for a Day’s Work’ features stripped-down piano sounds, like the start to an Eighties cartoon. Vocals are immediate, but track doesn’t really peak, just managing to trudge along for 3.49 minutes, making it a bit monotonous.
Darkstar gained attention with several delectable EP releases, and North, coupled with their intense live performances, has meant they have garnered quite the dedicated following. No longer labelled as experimental dubstep (as was the case when they were on the Hyperdub label), their logical move to Warp means a perfect blend of electronic music and classic songwriting. This latest helping is certain to draw new fans.