Dance and Cry, the latest record from Danish duo Darkness Falls makes you neither want to dance nor cry, but instead drive down a dark, lonely road for hours on end either to run away from a jilted lover or to kill him. Much like Chromatics’ 2012 classic Kill for Love, which this record owes a great debt of gratitude to, Dance and Cry is titled in a way to trick you into thinking you’re listening to a Robyn album. But from the opening chords of “Night Games,” you know you’re in for something much more sinister.
Darkness Falls have managed to craft such a singular vision with Dance and Cry it’s very easy to forgive the record’s shortcomings. It’s rather difficult to tell one song from the other, but the band commits enough to the idea of making a dark throwback to 80’s horror movie soundtracks that the album kind of just works by existing.
The lead single, “The Answer,” begins as a Disintegration-era Cure riff before turning into a lackadaisical Florence + The Machine pastiche. Like many of the other tracks on the record, “The Answer” builds and builds to no real payoff. The band cites Jesus and Mary Chain, Nite Jewel and Cocteau Twins as main influences and those artists’ fingerprints can be found all over Dance and Cry. Those bands were able to create such unique atmospheres with their music by really exploring the different ways to interact with an ethereal sound, but Darkness Falls seem only to be interested in merely being ethereal.
“My Father Told Me (He Was Wrong)” and the album closer “Thunder Roads” are the few stand out tracks on the album probably because they’re the only songs where you can actually follow the imperative of the album title. The propelling bassline in both provides real movement, which is solely missing from the rest of the record. But like the aforementioned “The Answer” and the opening track “Night Games,” the songs end not with a bang but with a whimper.
This isn’t a plea for more drops and crazy explosive climaxes; God knows every song on the radio has one. But it’s almost comical in how unadventurous this record is. If a song is a journey, this album is a treadmill. Very convincing in its dreary atmosphere, but a treadmill nonetheless. Great dream pop is extremely difficult to make properly. It’s incredibly easy to make boring music because the line between ethereal and apathetic is very narrow. Moody for the sake of moody and not much else, the record is dreamy in that in the moment it’s very convincing and singular, but the second it ends, you forget it even exists. Dream pop in the purest sense of the phrase.
Dylan Garsee is a freelance writer/bingo enthusiast currently living in Austin, TX. When he isn’t writing for Loser City or Austin music site Ovrld, he is penning features on celebrity penises for Previously.tv. You can follow him on twitter @dylangarsee.