Heathered is the debut EP of evocative electropop project darkDARK. Clear, crystalline electronic sounds combine with rich guitar hooks and purposeful, uncluttered beats driving the music along beneath vocals which manage to be breathy and at times fragile, whilst at the same time strong and prominent. Read Amy’s review.
Opening track Moments starts out with subtlety, but within seconds has succeeded in simultaneously setting the scene for the EP, capturing your interest, and showcasing both the gorgeous vocal style and the duo’s capacity for expertly pulling together layers of contrasting sounds. Lyrical and harmonic repetition alongside the more unexpected tones create a hypnotically familiar effect drawing the listener in. This is the fresh hope of new experiences, the tentative beginning of new love, those brief pockets of time that will stick in your memory forever, the times when everything is perfect and there’s a warmth within that makes everything feel like it’s going to be just fine.
Stay Close is the sort of instantly addictive track which has you singing along by the time it’s halfway through the first play. Straight in once again, there’s a different feel here to the opening track, but even as the first notes come in, you can hear the flow of the sound progressing from there to here. The background guitar hook pulls together what could have been a slightly too dreamy chorus section, and is a surprise in some ways to hear. Often, the inclusion of guitar in an electronic track can lend a harder, more rock style edge to music, but here, it serves to complement and enhance the perfectly curated core sound and works within that.
Restless has a more pop ballad feel to it, and it’s a great choice for the centre track. The different vocal style and the lyrical theme comes across like a kind of punctuation; like a mid-season finale, or the end of part one. There’s a slight underlying tone of melancholia in the music which belies the overall feel of positive change, of making a choice, of that resolve you feel when you’ve finally come to understand something, when you’ve realised your path, and are determined to see it through.
Fake It has a darker, infectious groove and is probably my personal favourite track on the EP. With the refrain “I didn’t want you to fake it” this is full of regret and reproach. The bitterness of realisation. That moment when you let go of something you’ve been clinging to, when the understanding dawns that what was good for you once is no longer so. In the lyrics, the tones, the notes, this feels like a story of drifting apart.
Closing track Shelter brings us back to a similar style and feel to Moments, almost full circle, but certainly with differences. Whereas Moments held a certain warmth, Shelter has a cooler brittleness to it, and to me, it seems like an allegory for the hardest part of the end of anything The pull of familiarity drawing you back, whilst you desperately try to walk away. Musically, once again there’s that hypnotic repetition throughout, which draws you right inside the music, complimented by the merge of instruments weaving in and cutting through the mix.
Each track is a journey in and of itself, even as they fit together to form the EP as a whole. The subtle movements of the intros leading into punchy beats, the electric guitar cutting through and weaving into the mix and the unexpected sounds here and there which add a dramatic, cinematic effect to this story. There is a comforting familiarity underlying a modern sound, forming a combination that is truly their own.