Yes, Your Dark Love is Alive and Well
Los Angeles quartet Darker My Love’s third LP, Alive as You Are, is undeniably sunny. At times it’s almost a little too sunny; as if too much of it will give you a burn.
Critics love to use the word psychedelic to describe Darker My Love’s sound, and it does fit on most of their songs, perhaps due solely to an organ and some odd woodwinds. And to be clear, as many as eight musicians can contribute to one track—with multiple guitarists, singers and percussionists. In fact, the more you listen to Alive as You Are, the more you feel transported to the ’60s and ’70s. Some songs even start to sound like The Band or The Grateful Dead if you squint your eyes.
The heart of DML was Tim Presley (guitars, vocals) and Andy Granelli (drums), buddies who started the band after stints in The Distillers and The Nerve Agents. Granelli’s no longer drumming for DML; Dan Allaire of Brian Jonestown Massacre filled that vacancy and it seems to make all the sense in the world. Both DML and Jonestown love a good reverb-soaked tripout with dashes of drug-heavy Beatles and Rolling Stones thrown in for good measure. DML’s previous LP, 2, is a bit more grungy and noise-inspired, but Alive is pure psycho beach-pop joy.
Album opener and standout “Backseat” is a country-flavored introduction to the relaxed and breezy attitude of the whole record; a rambling, galloping guitar part with harmonized vocals and simple drums. “Split Minute” follows, also a key track with a mesmerizing organ part and deadpan delivery over more electrified guitars reminiscent of the Velvet Underground. A few pensive tracks make the second half of the record a delight with “Trail The Line,” a Michael Penn-flavored rocker full of pedal steel guitar, and “Dear Author,” a richer, denser track that feels almost like a march with its insistent drum fills and churning electric guitar.
What’s unique about this record is that as much as there’s sun, there’s darkness in the shade, too. Presley’s dad died last year and he lost his longtime partner in crime, Granelli, to raising a family, and yet still found the inspiration and energy to be a writer on all but one song. Good thing he has his bandmates to help him see the light, because it’s when they embrace that bright ball in the sky that they sound the most alive.