Who Needs Who, the third full length album from Minneapolis chamber-pop outfit Dark Dark Dark is nothing short of a beautiful creation.
The record combines heart-wrenching ballads, perfectly crafted arrangements and an interesting selection of different instruments, all blended together to create something truly mind-blowing.
The haunting melodies and bittersweet themes which made the new Bat for Lashes album so good are all here, along with a sense of great musical accomplishment and true originality.
Opening title-track ‘Who Needs Who’ is the album’s ultimate heartfelt ballad. Nona Marie Invie’s vocals are velvety smooth, yet have real power behind them at crucial moments. The song’s arrangement involves masterfully executed time-signature changes, along with a vaudeville brass section just over halfway through. It’s the stuff of dreams.
‘Patsy Cline’ is at its core, a simple soul song about love and loss, with orchestral overtones and layered, choral harmonies transforming it into something far greater.
Dark Dark Dark’s melting-pot of influences creates a sound which is strangely familiar, and evocative of the past. The blues trumpet and jaunty piano would at times, sound right at home in a Berlin cabaret club.
However the often dark, surrealist lyrics ensure that the songs never lose their edginess and impact. The album never quite becomes pure, unadulterated pop. Dark Dark Dark are cleverer than that.
‘Without You’ is one of the more blues-influenced tracks on the album, on which Invie’s unaccompanied, powerful vocals are extremely effective. A haunting accordion melody complements them perfectly during the building instrumental sections.
Twinkling piano melts effortlessly into rousing choruses, as each song tells a compelling story that will keep you hooked right until the end. Who Needs Who is without a doubt, one of my favourite albums of this year.
Words: Lizzie Palmer