Brand New Carrot On A String
Doggass Records, 2010
REVIEW BY: Jason Warburg
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 10/15/2010
“Weezer and Sublime have a baby who likes to whistle.” No really, with an assist from the accompanying one-sheet, that’s exactly what came to mind before the first kaleidoscopic track of this disc (the biting “Stalemate”) had finished.
Darkness Dear Boy are an energetic power trio with a loose, organic indie-rock vibe and a riff-heavy sound, a Tempe, Arizona group that shares a jones for fat-chorded hooks-and-harmonies rock with local compatriots Jimmy Eat World and the Gin Blossoms.
Of course, neither of those handy touchstone bands ever produced a reggae-fied, shambolific tune on the order of “Get Off Me,”’ where the Sublime influence takes over and lead voice/guitarist Ted Organ begins speed-singing until he’s almost rapping. Whereupon they settle down for a bit until bassist Will Kingsbury and drummer Aaron Ranschaert hit the jet boosters for the final furious minute.
I can’t say I loved everything here–some of these tunes (“Knob” comes to mind) careen right off the melody line into a rich chaotic stew that’s amusing once, but doesn’t hold up so well with repeat listens. And the band’s rather purposeful forays into a more mainstream alt-rock sound (“Today,” “Fireflies,” “Terminal”) are this album’s weakest moments.
No, this is a group that feels like they are at their best when letting their inner id run loose, as they do on the bouncy, joyful “There” and the bipolar snarkfest “Dog In The Manger” (opening line: “You quit talking to me, but I liked it / You get so angry that your eyes pop out of their sockets”). Organ, Kingsbury and Ranschaert (not a law firm) clearly have the chops and wit to entertain with a broad brush rather than a narrow one.
Finally, there’s another influence here that the boys may or may not acknowledge. The melodic reggae-punk-pop sound they mostly stick with here—much like Sublime’s entire catalog—owes no little debt to the Police’s 1978 debut Outlandos D’Amour.
Brand New Carrot On A String is an impressive debut full of tart lyrics (“Pain can feel soothing when it’s all that you’re used to”) and sharp riffs, wrapped up in a loose, friendly DIY vibe. They might not change the world just yet, but Darkness Dear Boy can definitely put a smile on your face.