Dark Dark Dark

Who Needs Who

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To say that there's now been a slew of albums recorded by a pair of musicians, either as a group or on their own, after their combined professional and personal relationship just became a musical one is an understatement. So Dark Dark Dark's third album comes with unavoidable baggage on the part of its core creators, Nona Marie Invie and Marshall LaCount, but as with any similar releases, from Shoot Out the Lights on down, it's about how the personal applies to a wider audience that matters most, and sharp lines about failed joint futures like "I'll dance this last dance for you...Now that you're gone, my life goes on" ring true. Thankfully Who Needs Who, loaded title and all, also appeals on the level of pure sonic appreciation as much as anything else; if Dark Dark Dark are one of many acts who seem to define the realm of vaguely quirky and slightly winsome indie rock of the 21st century, the lean of the performances tends toward the quietly contemplative above all else, however much in a band context. The rumbling swing of "Hear Me" and "Without You" and the piano-centered songs like "It's a Secret" and "Meet in the Dark" define the album as a whole, both shot through with calm after-the-fact atmospheres. Invie's singing exhibits a quiet strength far and above any sweet preciousness, hinting if anything at the strong voice of a singer like Martha Davis or the Walkabouts' Carla Torgerson rather than, say, anyone from Pomplamoose. (Even as more aspirational statement than full descriptive equivalence, there's plenty good reason why one song is called "Patsy Cline.") The shadowed tinge of the arrangements also adds to the feeling of the Walkabouts' sometimes stormy waters as well, an Americana tragically lost and ruined with hints of darker melodrama, guitars snarling in the depths or voices massed low behind the prominent piano playing throughout.

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