There is more than just clever wordplay involved in the title to Dark Dark Dark's new EP, Bright Bright Bright. It's a reflection of a more sanguine, auspicious direction for the band, with the group confidently expanding their sound and scope on these six new songs (as well as the group itself, who have now swelled to a sextet with the addition of two new members). But the dulcet vocals of Nona Marie Invie remain at the heart of these stirring songs, with her plaintive voice ringing true amid the rich, sonorous arrangements. The album was recorded at Sacred Heart Studios in Duluth, and the natural acoustics of the former church only serve to add to the warmth and intimacy of the songs. Minneapolis producer Tom Herbers was aiming to capture the live sound of Dark Dark Dark on the EP, and his all-analog recording process gives these songs an added vibrancy and clarity that truly allows the intricate orchestration to flourish. There are lush horns, strings, accordions, and the pleasing strains of a piano augmenting all of these intoxicating numbers, beginning with the hushed emotion of the title track, which blends the distinct talents of the band sublimely as the song grows in intensity but never loses its elegant composure. Both "The Hand" and "Make Time" have a jaunty exuberance that is reminiscent of the brass-infused cabaret sound of Beirut, and would clearly find fans in anyone who enjoys Zach Condon's work. But the song that simply floored me on Bright Bright Bright is the gorgeous, piano-laden dirge "Something for Myself," which is utterly fraught with emotion and deep conviction, and is so beguiling that I completely missed my stop while listening to the album on the bus.
The all-too-brief EP ends strongly with the subtle, lullaby-like "Wild Goose Chase," which layers a melancholic piano line over muted strings that thoroughly enrich Invie's mournful lament. Dark Dark Dark have released a poised and poignant EP that is brimming with impassioned, engrossing songs. And if this is any indication as to how the group is coalescing and the members exploring their burgeoning sound, their forthcoming full-length (which the band are currently recording at the Music Box Theatre) will capture the full attention of any music fan foolish enough to not be listening already.
DARK DARK DARK will play an EP-release show on THURSDAY, APRIL 15, at the CEDAR; 612.338.2674