Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Cygnets: "Dark Days" (album review)

After listening to Cygnets' new (free) album Dark Days, one would be excused for thinking that Edmonton was somehow part of the Eastern Bloc.  Why else would a band lean so heavily on 30-year old musical influences, which are nearly universally unfashionable?

From the opening of "Victoria's Song", you'll be doing a double take to make sure that you haven't accidentally slipped your old Icicle Works record on.  That's because Dark Days is an unabashed homage to 1980s synth pop, specifically the English variety.  It's dark and brooding, though never Gothy.

Little is done to hide the source of the material.  The doom and gloom of "Leave the Prophets Dead Where They Lie" is straight out of Black Celebration-era Depeche Mode.  Direct line can be drawn to the riveting pop infusion of "Dark Romantic" from The Spoons.  The dated and inorganic beat of "Teenager" owes it's existence to Men Without Hats.

The music does begin to sound derivative, almost to the point of mimicry. It's extra refreshing then, when Cygnets blend the influences into something their own.  They do so most effectively on the searing number "Rx Victims".

Coming out of left field is "Richey Edwards Traces".  The repeating line 'touching you, touching me' makes it sound like a techno pop "Sweet Caroline".

That may sound like an awful lot of criticism, but Dark Days is actually an enjoyable album.  It may not be a ground-breaking work of art, but it provides a more than adequate soundtrack for your day-to-day chores.

Best tracks: "Rx Victims", "

Track listing for Dark Days:
  • Victoria's Song
  • Teenager
  • Lave the Prophets Dead Where They Lie
  • Dark Romantic
  • Sarah Smith
  • We Will Become Enemies
  • Satellites
  • Rx Victims
  • A Broken Mirror
  • Cassie Ainsworth
  • The Dreaded Ninth
  • Richey Edwards Traces
  • Dread City
  • Regression

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