Review Summary: A wistful review in retrospect
It’s 2011. The Darcys are a Canadian indie rock quartet who has just undergone a sudden line-up shift. Singer Kirby Best abruptly left, leaving member Jason Couse to pick up vocal duties. Having recently signed to Arts & Crafts, a label known for acts such as Broken Social Scene and Feist, The Darcys wish to start anew; they have one previous album from 2007 that will soon be forgotten in the shade of their new release.
On second one, The Darcys’ self-titled record unveils itself with the echoing shimmers of “100 Mile House”. Underneath lies a steady heartbeat, one suggestive of vibrant life and sentiment. Already the anticipation swells as strings tease a build-up into the next song. And “Don’t Bleed Me” makes its entry, running onto the stage with dreamy, interlocking guitar harmonies that come to define the sound of “The Darcys". Of course, one cannot ignore the fine-gritted baritone of Jason Couse, who imparts a sort of languid melancholy into The Darcys’ restless, evocative art rock. “House Built Around Your Voice” and “Shaking Down the Old Bones” stroll in, the former featuring particularly fine, textured guitarwork that would glisten in the light if it were distilled into physical form.
Then comes the epic stretch from “Edmonton to Purgatory” to “Glasnost”. Together, the 4 tracks that form this section are an exhilarating odyssey, displaying a unifying drive despite their varying moods. The feverish waltz of “Glasnost” compliments the skittish “Des Animaux”; “Edmonton to Purgatory” and “The Mountains Make Way”, both patient and sinuous, feel grand in scope, the titles themselves indicative of ambitious travels.
Blood, sweat and tears drip off the triumphant closing pair of “I Will Be Light” and “When I Am New Again”. A forceful wall of reverberating sound builds up on “I Will Be Light” and unleashes itself in its glory, whereas “When I Am New Again” is more measured and assured in its confidence. It saunters to gliding chords as Couse warbles out the title, leaving “The Darcys” to conclude on a hopeful note. There is the sense that these two tracks are intended to encapsulate the outcomes produced by the narrative journeys of their preceding kin.
Though the last note may fade, the impressions made by “The Darcys"’ layers of delicate touches do not. It should necessitate return visits, meticulous examinations over the years that pass.
Now it's 2013. Time has produced two other siblings, “Aja” and “Warring”, also works of quality and retaining an attention to atmosphere and detail. “Warring” is more bombastic than “The Darcys”, with an increased keyboard and synthesizer presence; it is a natural product of a band’s musical growth and experimentation. The trajectory is slanted upward, both for The Darcys’ popularity and the quality of their output. After all, “Warring” reached an excellent balance between accessibility and artistic innovation.
And then the split and the disappointment. But “The Darcys”, after six years, still remains in its original beauty.