The Darcys: Warring

Image Not AvailableToronto rockers the Darcys made a bit of a kerfluffle last year with the release of their track-for-track cover album of Steely Dan’s Aja. Reinterpreting a song is one thing, but turning such a sacred (black) cow of a record on its head is quite another thing. Nonetheless the integrity and power of their distinctive take on those songs was noteworthy and, simply put, a good listen. What makes it all the more remarkable is that it was already the 2nd of a trilogy of planned albums (their self-titled debut & first in the trilogy, had come out a few months prior), so it could not be sloughed off as a mere stunt-like opening salvo. It was, in fact, all part of the plan.

Warring, the final release in the sequence, is now upon us, and while I’m not exactly sure what ties it to its predecessors, it is a fine album. It is strikingly dramatic in the same way as their Steely Dan covers, reminiscent of bands such as Editors or their fellow countrymen the Dears, but without having to stretch for the emotion. It’s art-rock in the classic sense, with songs that might require a little attention to fully appreciate all their detailed work. Lead singer Jason Couse’s voice hovers in the falsetto range, but never without grounding, never out of control. The themes are dark (with a distinct militaristic thread on tracks such as “The Pacific Theatre,” “Muzzle Blast” or “Lost Dogfights), but never hopeless (perhaps their next album to cover could be Pink Floyd’s The Final Cut…).

The Darcys are yet another Canadian band of note in what has been a decade of quality music coming from the Great White North (and via the country’s parton saint of record labels, Arts & Crafts), and if Warring is the end of the current phase of the band’s evolution, I can’t wait to hear what’s next! But no hurry – we’ve got some quality listening in the meantime.

- Eric J. Lawrence

Track List:

1. Close to Me
2. Hunting
3. Horses Fell
4. Itchy Blood
5. The Pacific Theatre
6. The River
7. Pretty Girls
8. 747s
9. Muzzle Blast
10. Lost Dogfights