October sees the release of The Insect Guide’s much anticipated second album Dark Days & Nights.
In addition to the 10 brilliant new songs included on that record (and reviewed below) the band has put together a bonus DVD that includes unique live concert footage, behind the scenes in-studio “making of” insights as well as a narrated tour.
With an intro guitar tone reminiscent of The Jesus & Mary Chain’s “Some Candy Talking,” vocalist Su Sutton alternates between a sweet and sandpaper quality on opening track “Wasted.” Spinning a tale of “wasting another night with you,” bright tambourine (meticulously placed) accentuate key moments as Stan Howells guitar layers add power and clarity to it all. “I go through charcoal grey – I go through black,” Sutton laments. “I go through charcoal grey – I’m not coming back,” she concludes.
Former Pale Saints drummer (and newest band member) Chris Cooper stands out on the track “This City.” Against booming tom toms and distinct snare rim clacks, guitarist Howells builds a cathedral of melodic guitar lines and noisy washes. Slowing it down a bit for “10,” “I don’t love you anymore” is the big chorus refrain against a bed of discordant guitar textures. It all goes a bit higher when a keyboard melody line enters the mix. It is this band’s attention to dynamics that is most impressive. Alternating between quiet passages (allowing Su’s lyrics to be clearly experienced) to the big dramatic chorus.
Sultry title track “Dark Days & Nights” takes you on a journey through the sometimes seedy UK club scene. “Scuffing dirty boots on stick club floors” and “waiting on sounds” is the order of business at hand. Whereas “Crushed” evokes a somewhat mystical vibe. Trippy and snakelike, it channels a similar feel of, say “The End” by The Doors, or “Snakepit” by the Cure (with perhaps a bit of “We Love You” by The Rolling Stones). “Tape” is a straight up tender and gentle song, while “Insider” brings back the deep thunder drums and adds further sonic enhancements by way of organ textures. Multiple tracks of Stan’s slashing, slicing guitars combine with these individual organ melody lines. “Don’t you forget that I know you,” is Su’s repeated cautionary statement.
“Down From Here” serves as the third single off this collection (with "Dark Days & Nights" and “Wasted” being the first and second), and it’s easy to see why. Driving, catchy pop at it’s best, the lyrics point towards something a bit more sinister. “There’s no further down from here,” can only imply you’ve reached rock bottom. So – the only way out is back up? With a single guitar line hook that references both The Cure (in tone) and The Jesus & Mary Chain (in construction) fans of those bands will surely love this.
Rounding out the album is the pleasing pop of “Disco Tents” (which contains the clever lyric “I will forget you – just give me time” – a personal fave of mine) and “Hearts Don’t Break” which has the band breaking from 4/4 time and going with 3/4. Piano notes work their way into the sonic mix as the lyrics suggest something unsettling in nature. “I see the lights in the river, I see the bodies on the shore.” Guitar twang conjures up David Lynch, making it a perfect track for any one of his films.
A brilliant record and highly recommended.
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