It seems completely safe to say that Dark Dark Dark’s sophomore effort, “Wild Go,” feels like it was concocted by circus people in a back-stall after the cotton candy lost its lift.
Lopsided and strange, almost as if it was recorded on a merry-go-round, “Wild Go” just sounds peculiar. Whether that’s a good thing depends on the time of day and the amount of drugs in your system.
If you aren’t prepared for it, “Wild Go” can make you a little uncomfortable.
Consequently, after the first track the listener is prepared for something different, but, unfortunately, creativity doesn’t seem to be a major focus of this album. Dark’s sound is unoriginal and lyrically. There’s nothing special going on behind the scenes — no poetry or deeper meaning.
Sadly, creativity isn’t only lacking in these areas. Throughout, it sounds as though the band is attempting to channel a bit of The Dresden Dolls or The Cure (so much so that I actually thought that they may have been a cover band for either of these). If that’s what they were going for, they pulled it off beautifully. Fearful yet annoyingly self-satisfied, the lead singer, Nona Marie, oozes her fear and suffering into her songs befitting the best of the goth genre.
In this way, it’s not all bad, for although there are no truly strong points in this album, there aren’t any extremely weak ones either. It’s middling mediocrity throughout.
However, criticisms aside, there’s no denying that Dark’s musicians made a good call on some aspects — most noticeably the treatment of its vocalist’s sound: a silky, growling voice that sounds as though she has been smoking several packs of cigarettes a day and downing shots of warm gravy. Pair this with heavily padded, thudding beats, and you’ve arrived at the sort of music that Tim Burton listened to as a child.
Keeping in mind that they are signed to an indie label, Dark seems to distance itself so much from being just indie that it’s almost comical. Apparently indie is just too mainstream a genre for a band that flirts with cabaret and goth influences.
This mistrust of its label seems confusing until we remember where Dark is from: Minneapolis. Given its geographic misfortune, it’s perhaps not at all surprising that Dark sounds a little weird and removed from it’s roots. It’s harder to stay true to a genre when that genre is located mostly in West Coast basement garages where no one’s even heard of ice fishing.
All this skips over the most telling part of the album: the cover. The cover art, as with most albums, defines what you’re listening to. In Dark’s case, it’s a picture of a naked woman looking over her left shoulder, judging your counter-culture naivete in a way only the indie rockers can. The cover of “Wild Go,” naked, overweight and sardonic is a perfect metaphor of everything that went wrong with the punk movement and this album.
We should care that “Wild Go” doesn’t measure up or that it could be better, but, frankly, it doesn’t really seem worth our time.
“Wild Go” comes out Oct. 5 through Supply and Demand Music.
Eric Tompkins/KSLC 90.3 FM
Eric Tompkins can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.