It’s an oft-used phrase which has been bent into rather convoluted shape here, but it still stands firm: you can have any type of song you like on this album, as long as it's Dark Dark Dark. The Minneapolis band’s third LP is definitely of a mood, and it’s not a happy one. There’s a good reason for the gloomy tinge to proceedings: singer Nona Marie Invie broke up with Dark Dark Dark’s co-founder and producer Marshall LaCount last year, and the band have been through a brief hiatus and what I would imagine were some awkward rehearsals in the time since. Now though, both of the band’s key members seem to be in a pretty good place, and Dark Dark Dark are making some of the most beautiful music of their career – just don’t arrive at Who Needs Who expecting a party atmosphere.
That’s not to say that this is an overtly maudlin record – although it’s definitely inspired by the break-up, Invie doesn’t spend too much time feeling sorry for herself. The album opens with the title track, which clearly sets the tone for what will follow. Over some sparse piano chords borrowed from ‘Fairytale of New York’, Invie broods beautifully for two minutes, before a burst of accordion and brass takes the song in a momentarily unexpected direction. The following track ‘Tell Me’ is probably the most immediately arresting song on the album, building a more expansive rhythm over guitar squalls and a rolling beat before heading towards a very revealing chorus. "I want to live in a time/When you cherished me/Oh to go back to the place, where your hands moved over me" proclaims Invie, as the music builds around her; bittersweet and full of longing, it’s a powerful moment.
The rest of the album is built around similar moments, spun poetically by the band, but quite joltingly personal all the same – 'Patsy Cline' opens with Invie singing "And if I said I never thought of you/Well that’d be a lie" before going on to imagine slow-dancing in a bar with her lover, as the band mournfully waltz behind her.
The rest of the album continues in a similar fashion: Who Needs Who sounds beautiful, flashes of other instrumentation adding colour to the piano and Invie’s impeccable vocals. How you’ll feel about the album as a whole will definitely depend on your mood at the time – if you’ve recently been through a break-up yourself, it might be ideal to wallow in, but stick it on for your commute to work and you’ll find your productivity levels slumping alarmingly. A couple of tracks at once would probably be the best prescription to suggest, rather than ingesting as a whole.
6Aaron Lavery's Score