If you live in LA, you may already know about The Darlings. Though, The New Escape is their full length debut, they have been getting a lot of attention in their native land of Los Angeles. They won the 2010 Ernie Ball Battle of the Bands, featured prominently on radio station KROQ Locals Only show, were named Bud Light’s Band of the Month, and their song What is Below was used by the Anaheim Ducks in promo commercials. Okay, so you get the point, a lot of people are saying that these guys are pretty damned good.
I was a bit weary at first, though I used to be into the whole alternative scene in the 90s, I haven’t been as enthusiastic after they started calling it alt rock. For me, that scene was mostly filled with bands that had one great song and an album full of bland tracks that all sounded exactly like one another. From the first notes of the first song on The New Escape, I knew that I had rushed to judgment.
Though the press release calls The Darlings alt rock, I think that label is a bit restrictive. The Darlings music is catchier than alt rock, harder than pop, more polished than punk. They have merged their diverse influences to create their own unique sound, think Stone Temple Pilots, Eve 6, with a healthy dose of Social Distortion.
The New Escape kicks off with Hypnotize, a song that is gritty, powerful, and catchy as hell. The music is hard hitting and there is a great distortion on the vocals (and a great moment of screaming). Where Do We Go is my favorite track on the album, it too is super catchy, but what stood out to me was their use of layered vocals and breakdowns at the exact moments where they would add another level to the track. The high energy and the quiet sections balance each other out perfectly and worm their way into the listeners subconscious and cause humming for hours.
Broken Heart Still Beating is a close second for my favorite track on the alnum. It is a straight forward rock and roll tune and it will get stuck in your head. With its bare acoustic intro, tap your foot beat, moments of strained vocals (especially when the music drops out), and the super melodic chorus this track would feel at home in a stadium or in a dive bar.
While most tracks on the album lean towards the alternative rock with a punk sensibility category, Head Hunter is a solidly catchy southern rock track and The Hard Goodbye is quiet and twangy. The album ends with Let’s Roll a sort of rally song, it is quiet yet full of intensity as they chant, “They’ve got their money, but we’ve got our soul”. I promise you will be joining in with them by the end of the track.
I really enjoyed this album and I think that it strong enough to cut across personal taste lines and everyone will find some element to get that they are psyched on. The New Escape is on my short list of top albums of 2012. I feel bad that alternative isn’t as popular as it was in the early 90s, The Darlings would have been guaranteed mainstream success by now. They fit in seamlessly with the likes of The Refreshments, Days of the New, and The Cunninghams, and hell, they are so much better than Dead Eye Dick who went all the way to number 15 with New Age Girl.
You can preview a few of their songs on SoundCloud, watch the music video for Broken Hearts Still Beating, and go check them out on the Warped Tour from July 13 through August 5. The New Escape is out now on Gadsen Records.