Darkstar in 2010 are an upgraded model of the darkstar which released the much loved single ‘aidy’s girl is a computer’ at the end of 2009. That song, and previous singles ‘need you’ and ‘squeeze my lime’ hinted at a nascent songwriting talent and mastery of oozing synth drones that has burst into life on their debut album, ‘north’.
The band have adjusted their focus, adding lead singer James Buttery to the production and writing team of James young and aiden whalley, and the result as heard on ‘north’ is a brave, low-key pop masterpiece, which discards the cheap thrills and treadmill ideas that many deploy to access success. instead, 'north' will creep up on you with each listen, seducing with its’ achingly gorgeous, synthesized songwriting.
From the intro track ‘in the wings’, right through to the closing song, a lush new version of 'squeeze my lime' now called 'when it's gone', the album blends their crunchy, citric synths, baroque strings, piano and tender guitar with vocal harmonies, gently laced with glitches and noise.
Here, Darkstar have subtly found the beauty in distortion. the first single from the album, the catchy ‘gold’, is a cover of a little known human league song ‘you remind me of gold’, inspired by hearing the original slowed to 33rpm.
Insectoid drum machine rhythms carry the song along accompanied by a chilly piano. 'Deadness', 'Dear heartbeat', 'Two chords' and 'North' impress with their icy radiance, the rich, wafting strings, dreamy guitar and keys bury the otherwise snowy-white sonics, the crunch of the drums and the translucent vocals sounding as if they’re sung by a hologram.
Some tracks, like 'Ostkreuz' and aspects of 'Under one roof' conjure up a soundtrack to twin peaks if it was set in the north of england. Mini-anthem of 2009, 'aidy's girl is a computer' also earns a slot among the new material.
With their first long player, Darkstar have produced an album many bands with far more experience and many more releases and under their belt can only dream of.
Downbeat, breezy, sometimes melancholy, sometimes just plain sad, at others optimistic and affirming, and always gracefully elegant, 'north' will surprise many, a classic record for short days and long nights
1. In The Wings
4. Aidy's Girl Is A Computer
5. Under One Roof
6. Two Chords
9. Dear Heartbeat
10. When It's Gone