The Darcys combines the best parts of '90s alternative rock and Canadian indie shoegaze in one of Arts and Crafts' best releases to date.
It’s a match made in heaven for Toronto-based rock outfit The Darcys and local label Arts and Crafts. Like their labelmates, the Darcy’s new self-titled album displays the melodic sensibilities of Feist, the musical know-how of Zeus, and the shoegazing heaviness which helped Broken Social Scene climb to the top of the Canadian indie rock pyramid.
The Darcys have cited mixer Dave Schiffman as the saving grace of the album, which took three years to produce. While Schiffman may have helped, the band is too humble—the Darcys’ vast knowledge of music is obvious, and any frustration they may have encountered in the painfully long process of making the album has been channelled into a wonderful, unique sound.
While aesthetically similar to familiar Canadian mainstream indie artists like Broken Social Scene or Arcade Fire, The Darcys is nonetheless distinct in its delivery, and passion for good sound. The first track, “100 Mile House,” introduces the haunting vocals of frontman Jason Couse, whose voice is an aural mash-up of Win Butler and Thom Yorke. This fusion of Arcade Fire dynamics and Radiohead’s musical sensibilities continues throughout the record, with dissonant, interesting chord progressions on “Don’t Bleed Me,” and “The Mountains Make Way.” The expert drums and clever keyboards on the album are so in-the-pocket, they come across as a slightly more minimalist Steely Dan. “Glasnost” combines the sadness and anxiety-ridden conviction of Nick Drake, and miraculously manages to use a guitar delay effect that doesn’t come across as a U2 ripoff. The melody to the fourth track, “Shaking Down the Old Bones,” is so ineluctably early-Radiohead-sounding, you’ll find it hard to believe you’re not listening to OK Computer.
While a lot of bands may try to emulate early Radiohead, few succeed. The weird thing is, one gets the sense the Darcys weren’t trying to imitate early Radiohead at all—and perhaps this is why they have succeeded in doing so.