Album Review: Darker My Love – ‘2’

The reference points are immaculate, if a little over-familiar

The thing with me… I can’t stick musicians,” [a]The Fall[/a]’s Mark E Smith once said of the ever-changing nature of his band dynamic. And although the mardy one may have a revolving door policy for co-workers he has found some talented fellow-travellers along the way. Take guitarist Tim Presley and bassist Rob Barbato, who Smith handpicked to work on ‘Reformation Post-TLC’.

While that album showcases The Fall’s acerbic, vitriolic post-punk, it’s fair to say that Presley and Barbato’s romantic inclinations lay elsewhere; more specifically in their ’60s psych pop-fused and shoegaze-influenced five-piece, Darker My Love. As such they’re part of a host of contemporary US artists (such as [a]Crystal Stilts[/a], [a]Crystal Antlers[/a], [a]A Place To Bury Strangers[/a]), who’ve feasted musical cues from the feedback and guitar onslaughts of UK acts like [a]The Jesus And Mary Chain[/a] and [a]My Bloody Valentine[/a] and regurgitated it back to us.

If you can get past the feeling of pastiche, ‘2’ is a less foreboding offering than DML’s 2005 self-titled debut LP, combining its drone-soaked, boys-sharing-their-feelings miserablism with a punctured pop frivolity. And although this dichotomy can work, the ugly truth is that there are two opposing forces within the Darker My Love set-up – one that craves rock’n’roll hedonsim (Barbato) and the other that yearns for spiralling ’60s psychedelia (Presley). It leads to a disjointed effort. Opening snarler ‘Northern Soul’ is Oasis if they favoured substance over style, and is in stark contrast to ‘Blue Day’, ‘Add One To The Other’ and ‘Waves’, which take on elements of the fervent experimental stoner rock of Dead Meadow.
But whichever guise they take on, it always seems like a face you’ve seen before. “Something looks familiar”, sing Barbato and Presley on ‘Two Ways Out’ – they’re not kidding: whether it’s their Beach Boys harmonies or the kind of lethargic distortion typified by Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, we’ve heard this all before.

Ash Dosanjh

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Click here to get your copy of Darker My Love’s ‘2’ from the Rough Trade shop.