Chamber-folk outfit explores a soundworld that’s entirely theirs on album number two.
Mike Diver 2011
This second album from Minneapolis chamber-folk outfit Dark Dark Dark has taken its time to cross the Atlantic, having emerged stateside to warm approval back in October 2010. But the wait has certainly been worth it. Picked up in the UK by Manchester-based indie Melodic, whose roster features the fine likes of Working for a Nuclear Free City and The Longcut, this is a collection that clicks with immediate clarity, the sort of album that you feel you’ve known forever on the very first listen.
Part of its instant appeal is the central presence of (mostly) lead vocalist Nona Invie, who attracts parallels at various points of proceedings with Shara Worden and Hope Sandoval. Those favouring the ethereal tones of the latter will find the quieter passages of Wild Go stand out; and there are plenty of tender turns which sink into deeply into the skin, leaving a lasting impression. But, equally, this is a band capable of turning quietness on its head, delivering bombast at the drop of a hat. So Heavy Heart switches from a loving nuzzle to a hefty nudge for a few seconds, an early warning shot over the parapet between artist and audience – yes, this lot can do big.
But largely the volume is increased only when the emotional weight at the core of these pieces demands it – when, to make the message clearer, the only option is to drown out all other distractions. So when Invie sings of dancing "for me", swept up in the moment, on the stunning Something for Myself, she steals every spotlight on the block. The woozy accordion of Celebrate conjures comparisons to British folk oldies, stirring thoughts of shanties sung at inns resting precariously atop foreboding cliffs. Robert, meanwhile, is the most delicate of these 10 tracks, a piano leading the way for Invie to follow with talk of a lost soul: "Tell me where you’re going…"
Frequently capable of rendering the listener struck dumb by its beguiling beauty, and played by musicians in perfect harmony with each other, Wild Go is easily among the frontrunners for album of the year (so far). It will find a place in the collections of those seduced by the indie-folk of Laura Marling just as easily as it will become a stereo mainstay in homes favouring the arrangements of Arcade Fire. But while its appeal is broad, there’s no doubting that Dark Dark Dark are an exquisite outfit exploring a soundworld that’s entirely theirs.