The Darts simply don’t live in this world. Their world is this magical place where the nuggets of the 60’s took over the world in every way, shape, and form. Walls are seemingly made of red velvet, and gold accents adorn everything. When you get closer though, you start to see and feel the grit. On their third album, the Darts further their garage rocking sound with some new shades and colors that at times have me thinking of Bratmobile and, at other times, have me thinking back to Nicole Laurenne (vocals, organ) and Christina Nunez’ (bass, vocals) old band the Love Me Nots. If you have enjoyed the Darts so far, this album is a must buy, and, if you don’t know the Darts, start your education here. Rikki Styxx continues to pound the drums while Meliza Jackson makes her studio debut on guitar with both of them also providing backing vocals.
‘Breakup Makeup’ starts things with a frantic beat and Nicole’s vocals getting plenty of room in the mix in the verses. The vocal pattern in the chorus and music remind me of ‘Time Warp’ from ‘The Rocky Horror Picture Show’ if it had been played by the Dwarves. The shouted backing vocals recall the bands that all seemed to be signed to Estrus Records back in the day. The pogo beat of ‘My Way’ demonstrates another of Laurenne’s vocal strengths as she sounds like she has been doing this since she came into the world. This at times has an almost hip hop feel through the verses with Jackson’s guitar cutting through the mix perfectly as Nunez and Styxx are perfectly in unison together. The band slow the tempo with the groovy mid paced ‘Don’t Hold My Hand’ sounding like it should have been a hit from 50 plus years ago, except it brings in some additional noise and power. The backing vocals under the fuzz come straight from the school of the Ronettes. This is superb, timeless songwriting by all involved.
With the title track inspired by a back and forth with a person who messaged the band more than a time or two, the rhythm section lays down a beat that still catches me off guard with every listen. The music takes on a suitable creepiness feel with the spoken word type vocals adding even more texture to the album. The chorus features a mix of seductive and disgusted vocals which really creates a cool back and forth. This would be the scene where this person gets thrown back out of the Darts world because he simply couldn’t handle it. A riff by Jackson opens up ‘Break Your Mind’ which actually reminds me of the Love Me Nots’ debut from back in the day. The organ sounds great here as it overlays with the rhythm section. Something that should be noted is you cannot sit still when this album is playing. Even as I sit typing, my feet are moving with the beat, and I keep wanting to air guitar the riff here. Wrapping up the first half of the album is the slower ‘Love You to Death’ where Nunez’ bass is from another dimension. The beginning of the song actually makes me think of grunge legends Green River. The drums carry some additional power in the mix, and the vocal effects create a very different sound. Coming in at close to 5 minutes, this is an epic in the world of the Darts.
Side 2 finds the band continuing their sonic mastery. ‘New Boy’ gets us back to bouncing off the world with the organ and guitar cutting back and forth over the rhythm section. They waste no time here as they plant an infectious chorus in our heads. The guitar and organ each get their own moments to shine before they throw the chorus at us again for good measure. ‘Thin Line’ starts with Styxx laying down the gauntlet as the band barrels through a nuggets rocker with another sticky chorus that demands replays. The break for the organ here works perfectly. Turning down the dark street you know you should have avoided brings us to the cool ‘Phantom.’ I love Laurenne’s vocals here as her voice sits just under the top of the mix. It rises in the mix at the chorus but so does everything else which just makes it even more powerful. In an album of favorites, this one currently holds the title for me. It has a groove that stirs the soul and makes us feel alive.
The defiant ‘I Ain’t Crying’ punches us in the face with the beat threatening to explode right out of the speakers. Nunez’ bass adds a lot of oomph here with the breakdown in the song giving everyone a second to shine even further. ‘Japan’ opens up with a classic nod to the Far East in terms of the beat, and this song simply needs to be on the radio at maximum volume. In that world of the Darts I mentioned, this is the kind of radio they get every day instead of the manufactured crap we get peddled at us on a daily basis that has no heart and soul. This chorus might as well be an immediate transfer to your long-term memory. Closing the album with ‘Where’s the Rain,’ the band follow a similar pattern to the first half with a slower number that rumbles through the speaker, but this song has an entirely separate feel in every other way.
No runts in this litter, no weak links… This is a high-quality album that takes doses of the Nuggets era and yanks them forward with bits and pieces from what has come before to create another great album in the discography of the Darts. This world should belong to them. We would all be better off if it did. Check back in December to see just how I rate this one, but it stands tall as an album of the year contender for me.
Buy I Like You But Not Like That Here
Author: Gerald Stansbury