Earlier on this year The Musical Outcast had a couple of brief forays into reviewing music from outside of the UK, and well after dipping our toes into the water we have discovered that its actually quite inviting. What I’m trying to say that there’s a hell of a lot more where that came from, starting with these guys; Darling Down.
Up until around a month ago the only reason that I had heard of Battle-Creek Michigan was because it was home to one of my favourite wrestlers from back in the day Rob Van Dam. However, that has all changed since me and the guys from Darling Down managed to find each other over the delight that is Twitter. Well one thing led to another and here I am sat with their brand new album and a serious urge to write about it.
So without further ado… Darling Down are Amanda Legault (Vocals) Dustin Claud (Guitar) Jim Dukurno (Bass) and Ryan Hudson (Drums) and Never Tell is their incredibly enjoyable new album.
Opener ‘Pressure’ as well as featuring the talents of Taproot’s Steven Richards is one of the highlights of the entire album. Nothing like starting with a bang! The guitar riff in the intro has a hint of Papa Roach about it and sets the rest of the track up brilliantly. It’s a great up tempo start and the blend of the male and female vocals in the 2nd verse is a really good touch. The tracks undeniable energy not only makes this track a brilliant one but serves a great intro to the rest of the record.
‘Collide’ featuring Clint Lowery of Sevendust fame is another great track and another highlight. The way that the track builds into a catchy yet breakneck chorus is reminiscent of some of the Foo Fighters best stuff from down the years. The guitar solo gives the track that classic rock feel and doesn’t break the songs flow by being overly elaborate. It’s another really good track.
Big athemic ‘sing-along’ choruses seem to be something that this band have a real knack for and that is again in evidence here. Legault’s voice is powerful while not being overbearing and the passion in her vocal really elevates the hook; you can’t help but sing along. Title track ‘Never Tell’ is a heavier affair with a big chopping riff welcoming you into the storm. Again there is a great guitar solo and it’s simply another great uncomplicated rock track. The band seem to be able to tread the fine line between making accessible music but not sounding too commercialised. Yes, it’s got catchy choruses and catchy riffs but at heart it’s still a rock record with all of the energy and attitude that comes along with it.
‘Empty Nights’ is a far mellower effort than everything that has come so far and actually comes across as quite haunting. It’s a solid enough track but I’m not a massive fan of the layering of the vocal in the chorus and with the effect also used it just sounds a little disjointed. It’s not enough to put a downer on the track as a whole but I think it gets in the way a little bit. The short heavier section which almost acts as a bridge before returning to the chorus helps give the track a bit of an extra kick.
The central melody on ‘No Expectations’ is ridiculously familiar. I know you’re reading this thinking ‘Why don’t you know?’ well I’m sorry I just can’t place it. (Don’t judge me) Anyway the band are back doing what they do best. Uncomplicated and enjoyable rock music. The track builds really well and the slightly stripped back nature of the verses helps the chorus sound massive.
‘Gypsy Soul’ is sort of a mid tempo ballad with a sprinkling of anthemic rock on top; make sense? Of course it does. Like a couple of the earlier songs this one again has a bit of a Foo Fighters feel to it, Legault’s voice does most of the legwork and is unsurprisingly not found wanting. She takes the track by the scruff of the neck and really pulls it along. The final track of the album proper ‘Sex, Drugs & Rock & Roll’ is so wildly different from the whirlwind of big riffs and rock anthems that we have heard so far that it comes as a total surprise, it’s pretty much all acoustic. Where the hell did that come from!? Not that I’m complaining, Legault’s vocal takes centre stage and delivers beautifully. Just personally I wouldn’t have used this as the final track; it means that everything finishes on a bit of a low key note instead of a bang.
Except that it isn’t the end! There is a great acoustic version of ‘Scars’ where the track takes on a much more powerful feeling and an orchestral rendition of ‘Empty Nights.’ The strings and the piano give the track a level of poignancy that the original doesn’t have which is a great twist to finish on.
The main word that I would use to sum up Never Tell is ‘enjoyable.’ There maybe isn’t that one or two tracks that will blow your mind but equally there isn’t really anything wrong with the album either. It’s a good solid listen front to back. Lyrically there’s nothing that massively catches your ear but it all does the job well all the same.
If you want an uncomplicated, straight forward rock album with great vocals and great riffs to turn up loud and sing along to then Never Tell is definitely the record for you.