Review Summary: Math pop: the more refined (and slightly nerdier) brother of fellow Glasgow musicians Dananananaykroyd's fight pop. Like a true nerd, it crunches the numbers and works a little harder to kick out the best work possible.
Scotland always has to out "man" the rest of the world, don't they? Drink more, fight more, swear more - you've got to admit that the stereotypical cut of a Scottish man is not in the least bit feminine. For better or worse, that same "manly" Scottish approach seems to have been slapped onto the nation's take on pop, as well. Glasgow's Dananananaykroyd brought the world "fight pop" from 2009 through 2011's standout There is a Way
before disbanding later that year. But have no fear - the exact same year that Dananananaykroyd decided to disband, "math pop" outfit The Darien Venture emerged from, well, the exact same place.
Alright, so they'd been around a bit longer, having released their Back to the Future EP
in 2008, but you get the gist - one "man pop" Glasgow band goes down and the next jumps straight into the ***-kickers and continues scuffing them with ass marks. While the band purport to be a group of guys who grew up listening to Michael Jackson and The Beatles, it's obvious that there's something in that highland water (or whisky) that spices things up a bit. The real sound of Indications
strays more from pop than the group's self-applied label would lead you to believe, hanging closer to the aggressive, catchy, and technical sound Dananananaykroyd pioneered, but relying less on aggression and more on technicality. And yes, at times, the sound softens out enough to be a poppish ordeal, but there's not a single track on Indications
that sticks to a bubblegum formula. These lads are Scottish, dammit.
So, emergence and relative national importance aside, (need I remind you again, they're Scottish?) what do you need to know about Indications
? Well, to start, it's full of nothing but smart, well-composed tracks crammed with tempo, rhythm, and style change-ups, choruses both hypnotic and singalong, lead guitars which groove, flutter, and chime, and very solid rhythms which hold everything together. Honestly, if you can anticipate the slow, post-rock groove that ends "I am the Mediator" from the onset of the tremelo picked and aggressively vocalized start of the track, you should start playing the lottery. The vocals, too, do a good job of changing up their pace through whatever musical arithmetic The Darien Venture employ, ranging from the hurried shouts of opener "Heights" to the harmonized croons of "The Whydah" and hitting the mark throughout.
There is little room for error on Indications
and The Darien Venture put very little error into that space. While something could be said about smoothing transitions from one track to another, it just isn't enough of an issue to hold down an EP this strong. And while comparisons to Dananananaykroyd are easily drawn and warranted, The Darien Venture do enough tinkering with the Scottish take on pop enough to truly call it their own and lay claim to the boots they've stepped into. Indications
, when you break it down, is just a great example of schizo pop rock and an extraordinary indicator of what's to come from these Scots. And given just how much emotion and energy the group put into their craft here, it's hard to think that their next release will be anything less than premium.