Album Review: DARKSIDE – Spiral

DARKSIDE is back. Dave Harrington and Nicolas Jaar’s duo has returned with their sophomore album Spiral after a bit of time apart. The group broke out at the beginning of the last decade, releasing their debut album Psychic in 2013. They toured on that for about a year, before breaking up in 2014. It wasn’t acrimonious, they just went their separate ways, always keeping the door open for future collaboration and now the door has been walked through again with Spiral that has been quietly under works for the past few years. Given the output from Jaar over the past several years as himself and Againt All Logic, it is remarkable to see just how much these musicians can create so quickly.

For those who aren’t familiar with DARKSIDE, this isn’t Nicolas Jaar creating weird electronic noodling with Dave Harrington laying some guitars on top. This is a true collaboration that feels much more organic and instrumental.

Going back to their 2013 LP Psychic can be a good place to start, but eight years is a long time between albums, especially given the context that they haven’t been recording and putting out music officially together during that time. A lot has changed for these two musicians and that is evident on this record. The sounds are little bigger and bolder and the drums and guitars and more out front. Psychic opened with the sprawling ambient track “Golden Arrow,” but instead of opening with that type of record on Spiral, they have a free flowing jazzy number with the second to last song, “Inside Is Out There.”

Spiral itself feels like a spiral into more and more psychedelic worlds. It opens slowly with the soft, somber and at times glitchy ”Narrow Road” before the low slung, but more cheery rock track “The Limit.” Just as they are in real life, the pair gets political with “Lawmaker” — their psychedelic indictment of those in power who only serve themselves. “Liberty Bell” has a little groove to it and the most transcendent of the bunch, which makes sense why this was the lead single from the LP. The finale “Only Young” may be the biggest surprise of them all, taking the listener back to the 60’s or 70’s, calling to some of the best parts of a rock ballad from that era.

DARKSIDE return with a new album that shows growth, but also indicates they are saying true to what made this band so popular to begin with. The group leans in on the psychedelic rock, while also adding call-backs to eras that helped define the music they live within. It is good to have these two back together again after half a decade of working on their own projects and working with others. Pick up your copy here and listen to Spiral now.