Dark Room Notes

Dead Start Program

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With membership spanning the entire breadth of the island of Ireland, all 130 miles of it, electronic pop quartet Dark Room Notes began as a three-piece in the west coast city of Galway. Losing a drummer and moving to Dublin, they took on a local boy in drummer Camera Shanahan (who gave the band their photographic title) and a semi-local girl in Wicklow-born singer and keyboardist Arran Murphy. Led by singer/guitarist Ronan Gaughan, Dark Room Notes' blend of '80s pop formats is unquestionably a 21st century product: they play off the dark, sinister electronics of early New Order and bright, optimistic guitar patterns reminiscent of the Smiths and the Cure with supreme confidence, the kind untainted by punk and indie rock ideology, leaving the band content to emphasis their best feature: infectious melodies with strong, clear production and a sense of humor. Single "Shake Shake My Ceiling" is the four-track EP's strongest cut, hinging upon a Kim Deal-like bassline and a three-pronged vocal attack spearheaded by Gaughan, who sounds on the point of explosion throughout. Opening track "Slow Puncture," on the other hand, is far more relaxed, boasting a playfully morbid chorus in which the singer proclaims: "Saw you on Mood Street/Saw you in the window/Loved you like a daydream/Killed you in a minute girl." In the tradition set by Morrissey and Robert Smith, Dark Room Notes are reverent of their influences but they never sound as if they take themselves or their music too, and it's the sense of fun which makes Dead Start Program a little more interesting than the average New Order rip.