I am a huge critics of the fact that music, especially radio airplay, becomes more and more streamlined. The more I feel fascinated – and happy – if sounds which do not feel to be mainstream at all, have a certain level of commercial success. This feels to be a perfect introduction into the Indie-Folk band Darlingside, who are causing millions of streams with their music. Their new album, Fish Pond Fish, will be released on 9th October 2020.
Darlingside – About The Artists
Darlingside began as a five people indie rock band, when Don Mitchell, Auyon Mukharji, Harris Paseltiner, David Senft and Sam Kapala met as undergraduated at Williams Colleage in Williamstown, Massachusetts, not too far away from New York State capital Albany. This year, they are celebrating their tenth anniversary. Nowadays, Kapala left the band, which is located in the Boston area. The band has released three albums so far: their debut was the 2012 Pilot Machines, followwed by Birds Say (2015) and the quite successful and well recepted album Extralife (2018). In addition, the band produced two EPs. More and more departing from Indie-Rock, the band, who is playing in a classic bluegrass setup, today does folk pop/rock. They regularly do nationalwide tours. Their success is amazing – their biggest track, Hold Your Head Up High has been streamed some 30 million times at Spotify. The song below, Futures, is still about 8.5 million streams there.
Darlingside – Fish Pond Fish – Track by Track
The eleven track album lasts 42 minutes.
Woolgathering is a 46 seconds choral intro.
2. Crystal Caving
Crystal Caving directly connects to Woolgathering. Especially in its second half, the song is very instrumental and atmospheric.Even thought it is not the kind of music I would listen to on a daily basis, I appreciate the musical / instrumental quality.
3. Ocean Bed
I like the melody of Ocean Bed, which really creates some sort of maritime atmosphere – even though there are quite strong rhythmic elements. The lyrics are also very atmopsheric and metaphoric:
It’s day I think, but we might be underwater
In a sea creature’s dream, in a dreaming drink
It might be worth mentioning that Ocean Bed does not have a chorus – which by the way also applied to Crystal Caving.
4. Keep Coming Home
I got lost on endless land
On endless land I’m lost again
Keep coming home
I remember seeing you
The flat end of a bottle through
Keep coming home
Keep Coming Home is again a very atmospheric track, which is rather strong in its melodic focus. The lyrics are comparably short for a more than four minute song.
5. Green + Evergreen
After very gentle, atmospheric, even somehow mystical sounding track, Green + Evergreen is a very present and powerful from its very beginning. The song is definitely very catching from that side – the very echoing and voices and some very burred electric sounds however make me struggle with that song.
6. Time Will Be
If you define a chorus as a part of a song which is roughly repeating in lyrics and melody, Time Will Be is the first track on the album, which is providing you one.
Time will be the life of me
And time will be the death of me
In my loose head, my state July
My mind a room of ruby light
I find you there in the empty road
That flickers by the almond grove
The band’s bio states that they are praised for the storytelling and songwriting, which I do understand – on the other hand, I feel the way they arrange songs make partially make it hard to follow their messages without a textbook (at least if you are not a native speaker…).
This track is in fact a combination of two tracks, a quite joyful-sounding acoustic guitar song (February) and a deep and more quiet piano part (Stars or Stars Are Under Me, as it is called in the promo package I received), which is just quite brutally cross-faded in about the middle of the song. I am sure this has a deep philosophical meaning, but I leave the analysis up to you – I just felt that this is very disturbing.
Take me back to south of Denver
That’s the place where I was me
Feels like I’ve been dead forever
And forever I will be
Again, a song, which is very atmopsheric, even ends up with angel-alike singing at the end. To me Denver is one of the weakest tracks, as it feels especially tough to me to understand the message behind the songs.
9. Mountain + Sea
On the album in general, the band is taking natural phaenomenons, exporing and describing them in order to point them to the listener as a human experience, a reflection (did I really write that sentence by myself? 🙂 ). I think that one of the tracks where this works best is Mountain + Sea. It is very well created, the metaphors are clear. Communication is not about the message you sent, but the message the reciepient is understanding sometimes.
10. See You Change
Outside the house, the morning glory’s coming to
Contrailing light is buzzing through you
Take me into the orchard row
Where you go through, I follow
I feel that the album is getting stronger towards the end. I can much better follow See You Change than many of the songs at the beginning of Fish Pond Fish. Very clear multi-layered vocal and instrumental harmonies here as well.
11. A Light On In The Dark
Are you swimming with the fish pond fish
Looking for oceans in the saltlessness?
Are you spinning in and out of true
Pink moon playing in the dead of noon?
A Light On In The Dark is the most beautiful song of the album to me. Maybe just as it is comparably clear and harmonic, but I also like its melody and how it is guiding me through its story.
Darlingside – Fish Pond Fish – Spotify
This is the new Darlingside album on Spotify:
Darlingside – Fish Pond Fish – My View
You are tempted to say that music like that cannot be successful nowadays. Crosby, Stills & Nash, a band, which is often used as a reference for Darlingside, sold about 15 million copies of one album – exactly fifty years ago. But the number of streams and the band’s popularity simply tell you that putting your messages in highly metaphoric, harmonic indie folk tracks is still up to date. To me, the tracks feel to be over-complicated sometimes, but I cannot argue that the songs are well structured and written. If you like bands like CS&N or maybe secretly put out the good, old Simon & Garfunkel vinyl, Fish Pond Fish will be an absolute musical delicacy. If you are too mainstream, give these guys a chance. You may fall in love with your music – or know that for your life, they just came 50 years too late.
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