Darker My Love – ‘Alive As You Are’ Album Review

Darker my love clearly belong to another time. Offering up the sort of sun-soaked, psychedelic rock that Buffalo Springfield (and later, Neil Young) served up so well, this is a heady mixture of the aforementioned artists, Velvet underground and mid-period Beatles. Hailing from Los Angeles, Darker my love have provided a record that perfectly encapsulates those lost days on a summer holiday.

Opening with the wah-soaked road-trip of ‘Backseat’ you can every so often hear the band’s excitement as they yell out in the background, while in the fore you are treated to some gloriously laid-back vocal harmonies coupled with the delirious drawl of Lou Reed. ‘Split minute’ is a rather more contemporary sounding track which offers up the same vibe as ‘backseat’ but filters it through the indie sound of ‘shady lane’ era pavement. It’s infectious and utterly irresistible and a simple pleasure to listen to. ‘18th Street shuffle’ has a nice groove to it and sits sometime between retro-pop and the stoned grooves of Queens of the stone age, while ‘new America’ could be an off-cut from Sgt Pepper complete with a Paul McCartney-esque vocal which is eerily effective.

Offering a different side of the band, the acoustic trip of ‘rain party’ is a gentle, lilting tune that has a folk vibe to it. The harmonies are glorious and the music exemplary and it strikes you how rare it is to hear music such as this these days. ‘Maple day getaway’ has a much faster pace – offering just a hint of distortion on the guitars and a neat shuffle on the bass which ably backs the wonderful vocals. ‘Trail the line’ bravely opens with a single voice before the summery guitars come chiming in and raise the mood. ‘June bloom’, however, is a mid-tempo track that is the closest to early Neil Young with its languid guitars and high-pitched vocal. It’s a highlight of this beautiful album and the song to check out if you’re not sure if this is for you or not. ‘Dear Author’ is a strident rock number that is most welcome after the whimsical excursions of ‘June Bloom’ and it houses an insistent beat behind the grinding guitar sound. Another highlight of the album it showcases pretty much the opposite set of skills highlighted by the preceding track.

Closing with the perfect endgame of ‘a lovely game’ (with a shuffling beat) and ‘cry on me woman’ which, worryingly, recalls the old man from family guy as much as it does Neil Young! ‘Alive as you are’ is the perfect album to relax to after a hard week. Darker my love play unashamedly retro music but with a modern twist that draws from myriad influences and keeps the whole thing fresh. Invoking the spirit of vintage Neil Young, ‘loaded’-era Velvet Underground and Buffalo Springfield, the band are a simple delight to listen to and will undoubtedly appeal to fans of gently psychedelic rock. A quiet, restrained gem.

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