Recently seen opening for indie-youth darlings Bombay Bicycle Club on their US tour, Toronto’s the Darcys are an experimental indie-rock band who, despite having been around for a while, are just beginning to gather a head of steam. After a vocal line-up change followed their debut album release in 2007, the band took until the tail end of 2011 to finally release a follow-up, and in what is perhaps a preview of musical Christmases to come, have made their albums available free to download on their website. It’s a remarkable decision for a relatively unknown band, even more so when you listen to the quality of the releases, particularly their recently released sophomore, self-titled album.
The four-piece bring to the table a style somewhat reminiscent of “In Rainbows”-era Radiohead, allied to Jason Couse’s falsetto vocal style (which recalls a less stylised Antony Hegarty) and a penchant for dabbling in interesting layers and textures. There are shifting rhythmic undercurrents with a an off-kilter slippery dynamic and an undeniably epic feel to proceedings. The opening track of their aforementioned sophomore release, “100 Mile House”, previews the band’s style rather well, a big, rich, beauty of a song, with distant drums, warm, intimate vocals and oodles of feedback angst. “Don’t Bleed Me” adds layers of broody, choppy guitars and angry, waspish rhythms to create a lacerating maelstrom of a song. “Shaking Down the Bones”, meanwhile, merges the band’s yin and yang elements. Soulful and slinky, the song builds and steadily spirals from sexy mood music to a kicking, twisting mule of a song, guitars building in layers before settling into a gorgeous, resolved denouement.
Not content with a rattling off a very fine second album, the band have also recorded their take on Steely Dan’s classic album “Aja” in full (also available for free), not an easy undertaking but one pulled off with great confidence and no little nerve. There’s no doubt that the Darcys are a band committed to doing things their own way, and with some serious grace and style. If they can recreate the multi-faceted pleasures of the new album live, then they’ll certainly be one of the secret treats of this year’s festival.
Download the band’s self-titled album and cover of Steely Dan’s “Aja” here.