Since 2004, one of the leading purveyors of revivalist psych rock, Darker My Love, have succeeded in a delivery that gives the ever-cited era an added and welcome spice. Cosmic reverb and thick gloomy haze were key features on their ’06 self-titled debut whereas sophomore effort “2” was supported by a chunky, guitar-led Brit rock drive. Continuing the amending sonic tradition, “Alive As You Are” (Dangerbird) is the LA-based quintet’s most true-to-form, gracious record to date. Former bouts of heavy drone or rafter-reaching lobs are now replaced by pastoral and amiable pop tunes and it isn’t difficult to understand why leader Tim Presley called “Alive As You Are” “something for a Sunday morning.”
It’s principal to mention that for those in search of the bobbing, dizzying riffage (or for anything heavy for that matter) of Darker My Love’s psych past are by and large sorely out of luck with the “Alive As You Are” package—the sophomore-album segue into “2” should’ve already prepared you a joyful flux anyway. A majority of typical “Darker My Love” parts of their past shelved, the band has instead gone sincere, giving “Alive As You Are” moments of apt alternatives like Deep Purple rolling fuzz on “18th Street Shuffle,” or pastoral balladry (“June Bloom”) in place of Mancunian wit and muddled dullings.
The finest takeaway to mention from the act’s third, 11-song offering is just how between-the-lines they kept it. “Alive As You Are” resulted after the death of his father and Presley has definitely made the ‘love life’ record one would imagine. We find the quintet echoing rustic folk or bluesy run-ons and playing up their deep affection to heavyweights like The Byrds, Jefferson Airplane or Grateful Dead. Opener “Backseat” and its midway plucked twang, welcomes a swirl of cheery paisley-patterned pace. Thoroughly sourcing the range of 60’s hotbeds; the band jump from West-Coast nods (“Maple Day”) to the Haight’s heyday or Sunset Strip shine before going across the pond to Carnaby Street, The Pretty Things and Davis’ and his Kinks (“New America”). It’s rare you notice a sound—except for the 70’s Cars/Televison route on “Split Minute”— that doesn’t sound as it had emitted from one (or all) of the aforementioned landscapes.
Though it’s nice to see the band stretching their sun-soaked pop legs, “Alive As You Are” fails at closing the musical triptych from “Darker My Love” and “2.” A bad record by no means, “Alive As You Are” is instead a semi-forgettable breezed collection that makes me want and miss even more what they used to be.
Words: Matt Draper
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