Dark Dark Dark alternate between melancholy rumination and regret-filled boot-stompers on their second full-length, Who Needs Who. Over their prior two records, the band established its signature sound as a genre-blurring mix of Eastern European folk melodies, country twang, and jazzy piano riffs. Lead singer Nona Marie Invie filled her vocals with the kind of soul that we’ve come to expect from latter-day indie folk acts, always tempered with a solid rhythm. While Who Needs Who is solid and aurally pleasing, it is lacking in the kind of distinctiveness that comes with time and experience. Dark Dark Dark are still struggling to find their own voice, but that struggle can sound just fine.
The album moves between regret-filled plaintiveness (“Tell Me”) and the chronicling of a young, hip, and supposedly enviable lifestyle (“The Last Time I Saw Joe”). “Taking it here means taking me home,” Invie sings to an unnamed man on “How It Went Down”, celebrating the joys of youthful impulsiveness and the process of getting to know someone mysterious and new. “Meet In The Dark”, kept buoyant by accordion strains and brought back down to earth by cymbal crashes, speaks volumes about the terror of change and uncertainty.
Who Needs Who marks Dark Dark Dark as a band to watch, even if they are still a few songs short of hitting their stride. It’s a fitting soundtrack to a night alone with a bottle of whiskey, reflecting on what it really means to let someone else in, to know their secrets, and to tell them yours.
Essential Tracks: ”How It Went Down”, “Tell Me”