Saturday, 6 June 2015

Shiny Darkly 'Little Earth' (ALBUM REVIEW)

Like Lord Of The Rings and election promises, the only way to get anywhere with ‘Little Earth’ by Copenhagen three-piece Shiny Darkly is to suspend disbelief and buy into the fantasy they create. Part of this is the musical attempt to conduct a Ouija board to channel the spirit of Ian Curtis, and part is the sheer theatricality of the songs. If this sounds like fun to you, strap on those boots and dig out your best black t-shirt, we’re going in.

No matter what the Danes might say the tracks on this record aren’t big-boned, they’re heavy with layers. At times the atmospherics are fantastic, but often they feel a little flabby, as on ‘Eternal Chase’, in which a compelling riff is buried under a wash of synths and reverb. Exactly the same is true of ‘Ignorance’, which also proves the most challenging listen as far as Kristoffer Bech’s divisive vocals are concerned.

The balance is struck a little better on ‘Animal Fate’, which echoes like an ice cave but is wonderfully claustrophobic, although Shiny Darkly are best when they open things up a bit. With this in mind, ‘Sacred Floor’ is one of the best songs on the album as the loss of weight translates into more momentum and a more direct sound, while on ‘This Frail Creature’ swirling textures are focused into the discernible and rewarding jangle of a guitar.

‘Underworlds’ continues the trend –in arrangement at least – but is frustratingly held back by a bizarre yapping in the vocals, and ‘Soft Skin’ eases up and introduces some bounce, but at the cost of a GCSE-level synth line. Sprawling feedback and freeform guitar claws something back towards the end, tapping into the same vein which closes the album on the near ten-minute ‘Dead Stars’. Debate over whether anyone except the Doors should be allowed anywhere near the ten-minute mark aside, it is dominated by a meandering and insanely catchy bass hook which never strays too far from centre stage, and boasts the best guitar-led melodies on the record.

At the other end, opening track ‘Little Earth’ whips unchallenging musical ideas into a densely theatrical track which struts with a degree of stateliness which, if you buy it, is great. If you don’t then it sounds a little predictable and lightweight, and the best moments on the record will be the expertly-controlled feedback.

Words - Joe Ponting

'Little Earth' is out now on Crunchy Frog

Listen to the title track Here

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