Saturday, January 28, 2012

Dark Captain - Dead Legs & Alibis (2011)

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Three years and a name change later, London folktronica quintet Dark Captain Light Captain return (under the aforementioned name change Dark Captain) with their sophomore follow up to Miracle Kicker.

 On Dead Legs & Alibis, Dark Captain's darkly textured introspection is still at the forefront but there's a bit more forward movement and brief flashes of lightness than their debut particularly in tracks "Different & Easier" and "80000 Reasons". The fact that these two tracks are bookend-ed by slow movers essentially makes them pop all the more. Dark Captain subtly stack each track with instruments. "Different & Easier" starts with a jaunty piano intro, strips down to a tinny acoustic guitar, swells up with brass fills, and builds ever higher with clustered vocal harmonies. Such metamorphoses are what Dark Captain do well - they excel in intricate musical world building but allow you to see a bit of the scaffolding. This transparency, no doubt due to the band's confidence as musicians, makes the end result all the more enjoyable. You not only get to the intended destination but all the little stops on the way that make the trip all the more worth it.  

Like some of the best albums, Dead Legs & Alibis isn't for everyday listening. It has a moodiness that kind of guarantees that. It is however an album that  you can listen to, seemingly endlessly for great periods of time. Each track more or less is affixed cohesively to the other. Even the more upbeat tracks don't necessarily feel out of place - more they're little peaks in Dark Captain's stormy sea of atmospheric reflection and keep the album from being entirely slow-burning. Dead Legs & Alibis manages to offer up an air of freshness while still maintaining what could be called the band's signature sound - a worthwhile follow up to 2008's Miracle Kicker.

Get a taste of Dark Captain with the video for one of their lighter number, "Right Way Round":

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