Beach Boys meets Fleet Foxes, anyone? Darlingside’s appeal goes beyond their well-honed harmonies. It feels like one I’ll enjoy for the rest of my life.

Time: 12 Tracks / 40 mins
Label: More Doug Records

It is rare for me to be so instantly struck by a new album. After hearing about four songs (or maybe only four parts of songs) I was contacting the band for a press copy.

It’s the reverb-drenched harmonies that did it. Comparisons with the Beach Boys are unavoidable (and on “Indian Orchard Road” it’s the tune as well), while there are also bits of Fleet Foxes in the sound and even Sufjan Stevens at times. I actually find Darlingside more appealing than Fleet Foxes, as they demand more repeat plays.

The other thing that grabbed me is the band’s creative, upbeat, literary character. Their name comes from when a former teacher used to say, “Kill your darlings,” meaning, “If you fall in love with something you’ve written, cross it out.”

While they liked the idea, and called it ‘darlingcide,’ they say, “We changed the ‘c’ to an ‘s’ because we’re not super into death.”

So they are into life and have lovely harmonies – but what about the music; are the songs style over substance?

Not at all. While the album is a bit of a grower and it takes a while for some of its subtleties to take form, the instantly catchy "Futures" makes you sing and the earworm final track "Best of the Best of Times" lingers happily in the brain.

As further plays ensue, nearly every track has its moments. “Lindisfarne” and “Hold your Head up High” are just plain beautiful.

Titles like “Rita Hayworth”, “Lindisfarne” and “The Rabbit and the Pointed Gun” give a clue to the random variety of their somewhat oblique lyrics. They have said that songs are sometimes two separate ideas sewn together, which may explain some incongruities.

So while “Eschaton” (a definite highlight) echoes occasional references to the dystopian direction our world seems to be taking (the band told paste Magazine that, “Given the way that things in the world are feeling right now, a lot of these themes were forcing their way into our writing) the song has little clear to say about the end of history and is more impressionistic. It does feature some trebly electronics alongside the harmonies, though.

While the quartet deliberately puts the vocals centre-stage – literally, as they all share one mic live – they augment he sound sparsely with guitar, violin, cello, Rickenbacker bass, flute, synth and banjo.

Dreamy, largely acoustic and gorgeously mellow, this is sound to wallow in like a comfy mattress. Recommended.

Derek Walker