Listening to the sophomore effort from Alsace Lorraine is like a spin on a merry-go-round in the middle of a dark forest--at times jangly, fuzzy, and sing-songy and others dark, synthy and broodish. While some might label the sounds inconsistent, I find the transitions captivating and enjoy the way these divergent sounds hold together so well on the same disc.
This time around, bandleader Paul Francke gets the assistance of the sweet-voiced Isol (formerly of the Argentine band Entre Rios). Isol also happens to illustrate children's books, and that sensibility for the whimsical and precious combined with a little creepiness (a superior attribute for all good children's books) comes through. The songs where she contributes are definitely the best selections on Dark One.
In "Call For Papers," a warm organ-fused tune layered with synth bells and a driving bass line, soon followed by a looping guitar and clapbeats, Francke and Isol trade off lead vocals that balance tastefully. For the next song, "The Tall Grass," Isol is in the spotlight for a mellow spinning-in-circles effect. At just over two minutes, I wanted more.
The more Gothic, 80s synth tunes are there too, as in the downtempo dance tune "Go From My Window" that seems right out of a Siouxsie and the Banshees record. Similar sounds appear on "Burden Down" with less success because the song lacks a tight structure or any sort of hook to bring the listener in.
Part shoegazer, part lo-fi indie rock, and a little bit Goth, Dark One is by no means perfect. But the imperfections are made up for by the sheer fusion of seemingly opposing sounds. • Katy Henriksen
listen to their wonderful segment on Studio 360