NEWS FROM NOWHERE
Darkstar are an endearingly difficult band to get a handle on. Emerging in the blizzard of new talent that included Untold, James Blake and Joy Orbison, most people’s first contact with them was the fidgety but hypnotic Aidy’s Girl’s A Computer. At that point still a duo, their first album North arrived after an apparently tortuous gestation period that involved scrapping a huge amount of their 2-step informed material, adding a vocalist to the mix, and starting all over again, going all gloomy and synth-pop in the process. It was an unexpected but masterful turn by a band squirming against their own growing popularity, and on News From Nowhere, they’ve done it again.
Most notably, things have taken a turn for the ambient: where North had a set of angular 80s cheekbones, News from Nowhere offers deep, melodic sweeps and the beats take a back seat. Complex, frequently sombre, but aesthetically gentle, many of these songs wouldn’t sound out of place in a Radiohead set circa Amnesiac. A ground fog of bliss/desolation floats over the untitled –, while Armonica rustles past in a hazy blur of delicate melodic bleeps and whirs. On the relatively playful You Don’t Need a Weatherman, the off-kilter pop of Animal Collective is an influence, while A Day’s Work for A Day’s Pay starts with wobbly, dead-hand piano chords, introduces a shuffling beat, and then adds a creepy Beach Boys vocal melody. It’s a woozy, warped, highlight, and doesn’t really sound like anything else out there.
News From Nowhere is another enormous step forward for a band that haven’t held still long enough for anyone to really know who they are. But then maybe that’s the point, and if every lurch in a new direction is this captivating and inventive, that shouldn’t bother anyone one bit.
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Words: Adam Corner