Artist: Dark Spark Rays
Review by Jessi Roti – @JessiTaylorRO
Love and relationships both brim over with ideas and perspectives to base songs around, and every artist, in any given genre, has a love song – whether it’s about having love or kicking that love to the curb. Dark Spark Rays don’t stray far from their peers in that respect (really, how could you?), but their blending of indie-pop and country-tinged melodies into simple songs are all heart, no fuss. The hush of the drums reverberates against the robust, yet gentle sound of frontman James Joe Lino’s vocals.
Heavily acoustic numbers like “Waiting for the Night” and “Daytime Lullaby” follow a similar format, put to sleep with smooth crooner vocals, while fully-fleshed garage-rocker, “Is It Love?” has a southern, swamp-rock swagger to it. The driving riff echoes the likes of “Garbage Truck” by the fictional band, Sex Bob-Omb from the film adaptation of Scott Pilgrim vs. the World. The campfire sing-along of a closing number, “Beaten Up But Not Down,” is so innocent and endearing that I couldn't dismiss it as filler if I tried.
While the indie deliveries are charming, the most interesting (albeit ill-fitting amongst the other four) song Dark Spark Rays delivers is “Hazel Hue.” It’s reminiscent of the slightly goth Cat’s Eyes album released by the Horrors’ frontman Faris Badwan and Rachel Zeffira in 2011. Lino’s vocals echo the hollowness and bass of Badwan’s, while Gabriella Campos’ harmonies float above the haunting keys.
The best albums, the ones that you can feel in your gut when you press ‘play’ or drop the needle, are the ones that are honest. It’s evident while listening to Dark Spark Rays that each member of this band wears their heart on their sleeve and are open to their own interpretations of love and relationships, whatever those interpretations may be. Their sound leaves room for experimentation, and if they’re going to remain honest to themselves and their audience, they better get to it.