Review Summary: “Dark World” sounds more "90s" than 90% of the punk/emo/shoe-gaze albums recorded in the actual decade, and that is a damn achievement.
Let’s start with a simple fact that will simultaneously either enthrall or horrify potential listeners: “Dark World” sounds like it was recorded in a Goddamn tin shed. This is lo-fi noise pop that makes the first Japandroids album sound like it was produced by a combination of Phil Spector, late 80s Mutt Lange, and black album era Bob Rock in a glorious orgy of coke, guns, and Rick Allen’s right arm. It’s disjointed, self-loathing, and ferociously sloppy, unquestionably what some might call beauty and others call B-sides Thurston Moore wouldn’t wipe his ass with.
Here’s the thing though. “Dark World” starts to grab you after a few listens. Beneath the fuzz and lyrics that sound like they were written by a 25 year old virgin lies an almost savant-like knack for melody. Opener “When You’re Around” is the noisiest ode to millennial depression here, but like almost every other track, is interlaced with a jangly, melodic guitar that sounds like they just took pieces of American Football’s “Never Meant” and sporadically threw it around the record. This co-mingling of sonic oxy-morons channels an engrossing power-fuzz/melody trade off that works tremendously. Album highlights “Dogwalk” and “Glue” abandon the noise almost entirely, relying on those mid 90s hooks that would have qualified it for bonus track status on the “Reality Bites” and “Empire Records” soundtracks. Even weaker points like “Coca-Cola,” which quite frankly contains utterly atrocious lyrics, and “Hole Away” are still redeemable because of the trenchant melodic undertone. Pity Sex seem to understand that opposites attract.
In the end, “Dark World” sounds more "90s" than 90% of the punk/emo/shoe-gaze albums recorded in the actual decade, and that is a damn achievement. Pity Sex’s approach might sadly relegate them to only being legends among hipsters who refuse to listen to anything that isn’t exclusively available on Bandcamp, but that would be a slight injustice. Any serious fan of underground 90s rock can find a way to appreciate this.