It’s a little startling that the production duo (at the time) formerly associated with Kode9’s Hyperdub label eschewed their electronic dub roots (‘Need You’, ‘Aidy’s Girl’s a Computer’) and the forward-thinking sound of their vocal album North (“Thom Yorke made an album with John Carpenter,” says The Guardian).
On new LP News From Nowhere, the band sounds more synth pop than whatever it was that you expected of Darkstar. It’s a regression that conforms to the norms of generic indie pop structure – it’s complete audience pandering, intentional or not. Despite that, what they’re doing on this record is still very well done. ‘Amplified Ease’ is a pleasing sing-songy tune, complete with hippie chimes and crooning. ‘A Day’s Pay for a Day’s Work’ could very well be a Grizzly Bear song, had they decided to pander to this generation’s newfound obsession with electronics again.
The problem here is that most of these songs might as well belong to other bands, good as they may be, they are a reminder that Darkstar took a route fans might not appreciate as much. Still, as far as emotional songs done with the aid of electronics go, Darkstar is probably one of the better ones. But Matthew Dear they ain’t.
LISTEN TO: ‘Amplified Ease’, ‘Armonica’, ‘A Day’s Pay for a Day’s Work’
IF YOU LIKE THIS YOU’LL DIG: Ikonika, Zomby, Matthew Dear