I can’t remember exactly how Dark Sky Park arrived on my radar, all I know is that they have been there for quite a while. Since they first graced these pages back in May 2014 the band have undegone quite the transformation, both sonically and in personel. There have been line-up changes galore as well as ditiching of the keyboards which were often more of a hinderance than a help.
So let me introduce you to the new and improved Dark Sky Park which is Debbie Bilson (Vocals) Ainsley Stones (Guitar) Aiden Hall (Bass) Hannah Jasper (Drums) and their brand new EP Follow Me.
The record opens with the title track which has also undrgone a little transformation since I first heard it. I reviewed a version of the track last May but it has undergone some tweaking and plenty of sharpening up since then. I felt at the time that the production dulled the song and let it down a little bit but that problem has been solved and it’s bang on the money here. The song itself cracks along at a great pace, features some swirling guitar work from Stones and introduces the world to DKP’s brand of rock music.
My favourite song on the EP is following cut, Lonely Girl. This is Dark Sky Park. I spoke before about how the band have been on a bit of a journey, and this is the song that really shows how far they have come. If you want to find out what these guys are all about go and hook yourself up with this track at the very least and you’ll find all the answers. One of the things which makes the Sheffield quartet stand out is the unique vocal from Bilson. She simply doesn’t sound like anyone else out right now. Here she glides effortlessly into full sultry, hypnotic, spell-binding mode over the top of an instrumental which could easily be the soundtrack to a fleeting sashey for you and a partner around the grandest of ballroom dancefloors. (Ok, there’s a smidge of artistic license in there but replace the guitars with strings in your head and you’ll see what I mean… hopefully)
The guitar work and solos in particualr are first class (A feature of the EP) while the rhythm section is assured and understated. In my personal opinion this is the best song the band have ever recorded.
The pace quickens from here with the arrival of the postively barnstorming Stand My Ground. The riffs are a little deeper; the bassline courtesy of Mr Hall a little more pronounced launching the track into a defiantly swaggering chorus. It’s a no frills slice of crunching rock n roll demonstrating that the band are more than capable of stripping away the theatrics and hitting you straight between the eyes when the time is right.
Penultimate track Marty Feldman’s Eyes continues on a similar theme, while its references to the famous comedian and actor further show that DSP are a band which thrives on the unexpected and unorthodox. That being said the band’s sound is so much more refined these days, they may have taken a while to get there but I think they have really found their groove.
Things wind to a conclusion with the cheerfully titled Suicide FM which is, all things considered, probably the weakest track on offer. It’s not that there’s anything wrong with it, I just don’t feel like it has got the same spark and zip as what went before it. As I said there aren’t any glaring faults it just errs on the side of solid rather than spectacular and didn’t really do that much for me.
However, when assessing Follow Me as a whole it is very difficult not to be very impressed. There’s a formula to follow to make commercial rock music but DSP threw it out of the window. There’s so many different influences in here, you can pick out Black Sabbath, QOTSA, late 60’s Deep Purple to name but 3, but at the same time the band have made this sound their own.
Follow Me veers from eerie to sultry, slow and deliberate to downright punchy and back again. Finally it feels like the band are pulling in the same direction and firing on all cylinders and as a result Follow Me is a damn impressive way to start the year.
This is rock music, just not as you know it.
Follow Me is out now.