Every Tuesday, Torontoist scours record store shelves in search of the city’s most notable new releases and brings you the best—or sometimes just the biggest—of what we’ve heard in Sound Advice.
There’s always been a hint of something darker lingering in the Sadies’ vigorous psych-country barn-burning freakouts, but on their latest, there’s no hiding. Darker Circles, which, when including their various stellar collaboration albums, puts the band at over a dozen albums in as many years, is sombre and stoic, full of transgressions and exhaustion that are all told through the band’s strongest and most well-rounded songwriting to date.
Perhaps it’s the modesty with which the Sadies have always pursued their prolific and ambitious career, or maybe it’s the haunting melancholy throughout, but the bleak honesty on Darker Circles hits with an unexpected poignancy. More than a mere tribute to the soul influences in their sound, striking ruminations on aging and loneliness pervade much of the songs, often at the hand of a controlling vice. “Tell Her What I Said” sways around lines like “I turn to oblivion night after night/I’ll wait right here, smoking and drinking and smoking and dropping,” while “Another Year Again” (streaming above) fights through the blank-faced cynicism and terminal boredom of the words “It won’t be long until all your hopes and dreams are gone” with its ragged twang and a haunting hook of a riff that transitions into a powerful wall of Sadies-renowned sweet garage fury. The only instrumental on Darker Circles is the disparate and intricate patchwork assembly of “10 More Songs”; hazy and playful, it recalls simpler Sadies times, leaving the blunt realities of life’s universal progression aside for just a few minutes.
“To make it in this world you need to learn to compromise,” the Sadies sing on one of the sprightly, tried-and-true Blue Rodeo-esque country numbers, “Postcards.” But with the staunch, self-defending dying quote from Sarah Good, one of the Salem witch trial’s first-hanged, etched on the CD, the Sadies clearly, thankfully, have a good fight in them yet.