I mentioned Melbourne quintet Darts back in 2012 with their Habitual Slack EP - you can read and listen here. Well they are back, brandishing the sharp-edged debut album Below Empty & Westward Bound (out May 15 through Rice Is Nice). It's twelve tracks of undulating rock angularity and ambiguity - wavering levels of arresting shouting, wailing and punching through stringent rhythms and an unhinged vocal performance from Angus Ayres. His Frank Black-meets-Isaac Brock whites-of-the-eyes delivery is pretty great. From the punching Iggy Pop swagger of 'Commanche', the swirling pseudo-surf-punk of 'Geek', the Pixies-cheek (with angelic keys in the quieter moments) of 'Push Me Thru' right down to the mariachi drumroll opening 'Dead' and the latter-day Modest Mouse narcissism of 'Solitary Refinement' (currently my favourite track). There are more generational connections of course, with the breathy brood of single 'Aeroplane' found me thinking of theredsunband and the Kelly sisters, albeit in a less shadowy realm. There are other 90s staples licking at the edges here - I even felt a Shudder To Think shiver in the bottom end (that could divide the crowd...). The album is ushered out with 'My Darling Bendingo', a tremulous yet emotive fadeout that was a curiously downbeat yet uplifting end... Such a juxtaposition sounds ridiculous, but its that off-kilter ramble and frission in friction that makes Below Empty & Westward Bound such an enticing prospect.
Darts are supporting Alpine on an Australian tour in June which sees them sweep through the southern end of the country alongside another great lil band Pearls. They will be launching Below Empty & Westward Bound just before that in Melbourne at The Shadow Electric, Saturday June 20. Hopefully heading north thereafter.