By bringing together twisted angular rock, with an edgy immersing groove, DARK STARES have produced an intoxicating sound that takes from a vast range of areas, spanning from Queens of the Stoneage, Muse, and Royal Blood, through to Led Zeppelin and The Beatles. The much-praised alt-rock combo release their breath-taking debut album, Darker Days Are Here To Stay, on Friday 11th May. In anticipation, the quartet have releases a pair of videos (see them both below) and provided us with a run-through of each track.
We used the digitally warped and reversed sound of one of George Harrison’s old sitars being randomly plucked and some words spoken by the band to create an atmospheric start to the record. “Liquid Reign” then kicks in and has a juxtaposed simple but edgy vibe, with three distinct vocal sections and brazen guitar solos.
Sweet Rider 5
The song drops in with a kind of aggressive, flabby bass sound and deliberately picks up where the opener left off. The formula is catchy with jaunted guitar-licks and solos, but the lyrics are kind of depressed with a whimsical chorus.
This track has an ethereal emotional depth and a rousing chorus. We were really happy with how the ghostly backing vocals and atmospheric instrumentals came out in our production. The outro is a kind of climax with more forceful vocals buried under the mix.
“Darker Days” has a lyrical nod to the album title and tends to sum up our current vibe on the state of things. Originally it was going to close the album but we felt it added something special early in the record. Again we crafted some nice backing parts. The verses are grungy and plodding but the chorus kind of lifts up into another dimension with aggressive guitars and hopeful lyrics.
A transition track, “Animal” was one of our favourites off the Soul Contract EP and we felt we had to carry it over to our debut album. Probably the biggest guitar riff moment on the album, the second ‘drop’ we pushed to create a surprise moment where the drums become more crashing and dramatic.
Probably the most ‘jammed’ or played-as-a-band track on the album. The song is bittersweet with some introspective lyrical elements. We released an acoustic version of the song on our live Zebra Session EP. The song adds some relief from the more rhythmic or harder tracks.
Hips Don’t Shake
The eerie bass introduction is a siren call of the album signalling towards halfway. The drop is pretty dirty, hypnotic and deliberately repetitive. We used to call it a ‘disco dirge’ in rehearsal. The lyrics hint at inner thoughts, the unpredictability of the night and the privacy of your own desires. Some of the backing harmonies and parts were developed in some very relaxed evenings and creative time, which was one of the great things about not being time pressured in our own studio.
“Cruise Control” is a big, four-piece-band-style rock track with screeching, wailing riffs and a driving energy throughout. The lyric “Out of the fire and into the night” is a nice melodic variation moment in what’s a pretty relentlessly pushing song that nearly always forms part of our live set-list.
We don’t have many songs that immediately start with vocals. We repeat the opening lyrics three times, then as the instrumental change kicks in it coincides with a stream-of-consciousness lyrical development that seems to be vaguely lashing out at something. The solos are kind of melancholic with moody instrumental reprieves and backing vocals. It’s a short song, right before the longest track of the album.
With this track we worked hard on fleshing out the song with interesting different melodies and backing parts to scope out one of our longest ever pieces of music. “Their Game” has a warm, jangling guitar-lick running throughout which pins the track together between the vocals. The outro is something we worked on in rehearsal and we deliberated whether keeping it as only a ‘live’ thing but decided its energy and drama was worthy of an inclusion.
Feels (So Sad)
The closing track was recorded quite spontaneously; we hadn’t jammed the song much previously. It has an off-beat, string-interchanging guitar part married up to tribal percussion. There is sadness to the lyrics that focuses on time passing, as well as a theme of ‘home’, which recurs throughout the album as a whole. The drums and instrumentation fade off naturally, slowing down in a ‘live’ way that sees the record out.