Review Summary: While husband&wife may no longer be the sound of the times, there’ll always be space on my record shelf for lovely, genuinely beautiful indie albums like Dark Dark Woods.
Ugh. There’s nothing quite so annoying as the flu. The sleepless, sweaty nights, the too hot / too cold days, the constant removal and replacement of jackets, shirts, and, if you’re not too concerned with who you offend, trousers. It’s what I’ve been experiencing for the last few days, along with the perfectly timed sprouting of my wisdom teeth, and it truly, truly sucks. Luckily, besides being armed to the teeth with Beechams all-in-one and a hot water bottle shaped like a grizzly bear, I’ve got indie quartet husband&wife’s sophomore album Dark Dark Woods to soothe the pain. The band make lovely, sincere, slow-moving songs, rooted in gently stretched-out guitar sections and decorated with pastoral pianos, lush, placid drums and earnest, heart-rending vocals.
It’s the tender, undemanding quietness of the songs which make the album so therapeutic and easy to love. Sure, the songs can get loud at times, but they choose to do it at the right times where the instrumental build requires a climax and not a quiet exit. It is at these times where the album hits its peak emotively, and it is genuinely affecting. The big highlight of the album, which, to be fair, is head over heels better than most of the rest of the album, is ‘Haven’t Got A Friend’. This is where the band reach the pinnacle of what they’re trying to achieve: a therapeutic, emotively slow and barren build of instruments that, without the listener realizing it, culminates in a vast but focused release of a particular emotion. “I sound like everybody else when I say I haven’t got a friend in the world” is repeated by the wonderfully poignant and actually quite powerful vocal stylings of Mike Adams, while a single brave acoustic line gradually, passionately rises in volume as other elements like drums and distorted electric guitars edge into the picture. Before you know it, the melancholy comes flooding out and sweeps you away with Adams into quiet but comforting sadness.
There are more great tracks on here: ‘I Got Fat’ demonstrates a lyrically witty side to the band but with affectingly bleak undertones of remorse and regret, ‘Comp Jam’ is another track which utilizes the technique seen on ‘Haven’t Got A Friend’, repeating a single line (“What do you need a boat for? I don’t know”) and slowly constructing an instrumental shelter around it to maximise its poignancy, while ‘Thanks for Understanding’ sounds like Manchester Orchestra if they went on a post-rock binge; repeated, heavy drums, drawn-out guitars and gradually building intensity resulting in a touching climax. But while nothing really reaches the simplistic brilliance of ‘Haven’t Got A Friend’, it really isn't that big of an issue. There isn’t a bad track here, and each one serves its purpose of making me feel not so shi
t, and, right now, that’s all I need. The indie sound of Dark Dark Woods may seem a little dated but there’s a reason people loved records like these in the first place. Like a good cup of tea, they comfort us, warm us, allow us to unwind, and, essentially, make us feel safe at home.