Review Summary: Dark Dark Horse’s debut, "Centuries", represents an intrinsic dichotomy between cold ethereal sounds and warm enveloping tones.Centuries
is a paradoxical album, in that the sounds and feelings seemingly do not mesh, but rather, they are wholly polar. The calm vocals and piano are met with coarse glitches and chilled electronics. It should not sound as cohesive as it does, for the two sides of the album appear vastly opposite of each other. Be that as it may, Centuries
still manages to captivate, sounding incredibly organic and fully realized. The album works so well because of this odd mixture, bringing a lot beauty and charisma to an otherwise tired and uninspired formula. One man singing over electronic tracks is nothing new, in fact, the format has been done to death. Yet Jamie Ward, of Maybeshewill and Kyte fame, brings a lot of freshness and originality to the mix. His keen sense of detail really pushes the album forward, with every track being polished to sheen, making Centuries
one of this year’s true stand outs.
The main draw to Centuries
is how balanced the album truly is. Neither aspect too oppressive, with the cool and collected alternative/indie blending perfectly with the incredibly well produced electronica. It is all so chill and low-key, with the vocals really taking center stage. While James Stafford doesn’t exactly break any vocal boundaries, he does a wonderful job in context to the overall vibe of the album. Both collected and self assured, Stafford really shines through, complimenting Ward’s digital work, rather than hindering it. Meanwhile, Ward’s work truly is the crux of the album. As stated previously, his intense sense of detail really makes the album shine, allowing for a very atmospheric, and wholly immersive experience. After all, the atmosphere is the most intriguing part of Centuries
. The ebb and flow of the tracks really make the experience beautiful, with the concise yet airy production tying everything together. And oh how beautiful it is. Centuries
is so complaisant and so composed, that the beautiful moments, however simplistic, really stand out amongst the light atmosphere .
It’s as difficult to find a bad track as it is to pick a standout. Even though things can sometimes drag on a bit because of the lack of tempo changes within the songs, each track is amiable in its own right. Whether it be the more percussive and quick “Sharks,” or the dreamy “Southwest of Orion,” Centuries
has a lot to offer with its wide variety. “Mercury Nevada” is a rather large track, at eight minutes in length. While not exactly sprawling, it goes through some interesting shifts, making it one of the more intriguing songs on the album. “Midnight Mass” opens up with a succinct acoustic guitar, which leads into an electronic interlude. Little dashes of detail in each track are what make the whole such a treat to listen to. Each song has something a little different about, with bits of character and personality sprinkled through out.
is a wonderful experience. In its blissful simplicity, the album truly captivates with its beauty and character. Aside from the album dragging its feet in parts, it deftly avoids sounding gimmicky or contrived. When everything comes together, as it so often does, it is an amazing listen, through and through. Centuries
is a highlight of 2010, and something not to be missed.