Darktown Jubilee - The World, The Flesh & The Devil (Review)
Review by Jack Foley
THEY may hail from Manchester but indie-rockers Darktown Jubilee have more of a big American band sound.
The five-piece’s debut album The World, The Flesh & The Devil is, by their own admission, influenced as much by the likes of Bruce Springsteen and The Killers as it is anyone from their own country.
But in some of their power ballads, they also take their cues from the likes of Maroon 5 and acts of their ilk. And they specialise in the anthemic.
Yet while certainly accomplished, the album itself perhaps needed to do a little more to genuinely stand out from the crowd, despite boasting crossover potential on both sides of the Atlantic.
On a track like former single Stay, for instance, there’s a generic feel that is overly reminiscent of bands such as The Killers – an electronic intro giving rise to some pile-driving guitars and an emotive set of vocals from David Boardman that soar over the epic chorus.
The band at their best when allowing things to become less ‘pop’ and more rock, giving over to some nicely brooding tendencies on tracks like Give Me A Sign, which combine some great guitar riffs with a rousing chorus, and on the bittersweet Getting Better, which actually relates how things are getting worse over some hard-rocking tendencies.
But one suspects they’re at their most comfortable when embellishing their brand of rock with those radio-friendly pop tendencies. Hence, Stop! Look Around may open with some spiky guitar riffs and suggest a heavier moment, but they quickly give rise to a chorus that’s high on melody and perhaps even higher on cheesy, chart-friendly sensibilities (“stop! look around, am I still dreaming?”).
Some ballad-driven moments such as All I Want threaten to become drippy in the extreme (complete with obvious piano inclusion), although on Beautiful Night, which strips things almost completely back, they genuinely do endear.
And they’re also capable of subverting expectation, with When You’re Wrong emerging as an anti-ballad that swaps melancholy for bitter (“you just make me sick that you can’t just admit when you’re wrong”) in a tale of someone who won’t ever admit, well…
All in all, then, Darktown Jubilee are a decent act and their debut has enough good moments to make the prospect of hearing more from them an appealing one.
Download picks: Give Me A Sign, Beautiful Night, When You’re Wrong, Getting Better