En L’air is available via:
See Her– 9.6/10.0
Magnetic Man– 9.6
STANDOUT TRACK: 1984
18th March, 2014
ALL SONGS WRITTEN BY:
Nico Essig and Dark Furs
RECORDED, ENGINEERED, MIXED AND MASTERED BY:
Nicco Esig at Jim Henson Studios, Hollywood, California (Feb. 2014)
Zachary Reynolds, Derrick Stockwell, Pablo Hernandez and Navon Weisberg
ALL DRUM TRACKING BY:
Dream Pop, Indie Rock, Mood Rock.
The L.A.-based duo have a lot of local competition: they mark themselves aside with their distinct and unforgettable music. Dark Furs‘debut E.P. saw May and Phillipps capture critical assiduity: En L’air is an authoritative pilotage that will lead to big things.
WHEN it comes to ‘D.I.Y.’ acts and making a name for yourself…
the task at hand can be daunting indeed. Those whom have label backing and a host of bodies doing their bidding, worry not about the day-to-day life: there is less hassle and strain when it comes to music, and the business of promotion. The musicians that have to take care of everything, often have a lot more to prove: the resultant sounds are a lot stronger and convincing because of it. I know that most new acts can be classed along these lines, yet there does seem to be an hegemony and imbalance: some have a much easier ride than others. One of the most pleasing things- when it comes to discovering new music- is the back story and origins: how the participants met and fell in love. Music is an art form that brings like-minded souls together; those that share voices and ideals often happen upon one another by chance- and go on to create some wonderful moments. Dark Furs are a duo that connected instantly; with a shared passion and sense of adventurousness, an impassioned partnership was formed. Let me give you a little background:
“Dark Furs is a female-fronted independent rock band. Founded in East Los Angeles, a chance connection in 2011 between UK-raised vocalist Suzanne May and LA native Chad Philipps sparked an immediate songwriting partnership. They mix intricate melody lines and commanding vocals with dark and dreamy instrumentals to create their own brand of “Mood Rock.” In 2013, the duo headed into the studio to rec…ord their self-titled EP with producer Dan Long (Henry Clay People, Local Natives) which BuzzBands.LA described as “a sophisticated reverie” and landed them on multiple Bands to Watch lists. They recently completed the recording of their follow-up EP at Jim Henson Studios with producer Nico Essig, slated for a Spring release. Dark Furs is ready to kick off 2014 with new music, videos, and an international tour.”
Since their biography was written, the duo have released their latest E.P., En L’air. The E.P.’s title refers to a ballet move (it literally translate as ‘in the air’). The music itself has balletic and graceful glide; plenty of flight and birdsong beauty can be detected throughout the trio of tracks: one thing that is not in the air is the future of the two-piece. May and Phillipps have been recording together for a while now: garnering praise and adulation through L.A., their stock is on the rise- marking them out as one of the most promising acts in town. Having investigated neighbouring duos such as Little Dove and The Open Feel, it is clear that Dark Furs have a busy future ahead: like the aforementioned acts, they have a confidence and heightened sense of awareness. Their music transcends beyond L.A. and its borders: infused with dreaminess as well as darker tones, it can be understood by all. Atmosphere, sass and romance playfully mingle throughout their tracks- the act come across as relatable and human, yet unlike anything out there at the moment.
If you like your music awash with conviction, heart and attitude, then Dark Furs are the ones for you. Anyone familiar with fellow L.A. D.I.Y. duo Little Dove (and frontwoman Vanja James) will be able to appreciate May: her voice has a comparable belt and urgency. Elements of London-based acts Florence and the Machine, Lily Allen, London Grammar and Kate Nash come through: a small amount of each seeps through in Dark Furs’ music. The pace and energy that is synonymous in each track puts you in mind of the Punk greats of the 1970s; Indie gods of today can be heard too- there is a brilliant blend of moodiness, emphatic flair and spiked heels. It is hard to compare the L.A. act with anyone else (directly, anyway), so I would advise that everyone puts their feet in the water: Dark Furs do not push you away; they do not appeal to a small sect of people. Their sounds are those that incorporate Indie, Grunge, Pop and Punk. If you are discriminating and limited when it comes to your musical tastes, then do not fear: there is light and brightness to found within. Powerful and heart-winning vocals from May- combined with Phillipps’s innovative and enticing strings draw you in- and ensure that they capture your attentions completely.
The self-titled debut featured the talents of Garrett Henritz (on drum tracking): the E.P. is a banquet of soulful searching, painful confession and love-gone-wrong: May’s voice walks the line between bruised and rebellious. Tracks such as Concrete Corners looked at dislocation and new ambition: May is bored with her current predicament; keen as she is to “break the ceiling.” Won’t See Me’s surveyance of a broken-down love- one where May sees her former love move on- has bitterness and recrimination: there is an unease menage a trois at hand. Modesty, self-reflection and humble ache can be found elsewhere: Dark Furs is an E.P. that covers a lot of ground. The sound has developed and progressed since last year (when the E.P. was released). The stunning and invigorating compositions are all in tact, yet there is greater confidence and assurance on En L’air. Themes of heartache and soullessness remain, yet a sense of cohesion and concision is apparent (there are a trio of tracks here, as opposed to their debut’s five). On Dark Furs, the duo proved themselves as one of the most arresting and unique acts around: over the quintet of tracks, every ounce they had been poured out. Their latest E.P. sees the quality meter high, yet there are fewer nerves and a greater sense of assurance: the key themes and scenes remain, yet the duo seem more comfortable and confident in their skins: this comes through throughout the disc.
A pleasing and swirling wave of electric strings opens See Her: it has flirtations of Jeff Buckley; smatterings of Wild Beasts- it is pressing yet temporized opening. With emotion in her voice, May surveys a tempestuous scene. The song’s focal heroine is causing much chagrin and reflection: our frontwoman knows she has had a thousand tries, to “fit between the lies“- you sense she is yearning for something that she cannot have. There is an air of resentment and fear that lurks beneath the surface: one gets the feeling that May longs for a different outcome. Her (former) suitor is on her mind; whilst our frontwoman stands “in the chorus line.” One of the earliest plaudits one can levy towards the track, is the vocal performance. Most singers would simply allow the mood and sense of anger overwhelm. The two share glances and pass one another in the street: such a scene has been played out in numerous other songs- May ensures that the build-up is suitably evocative. Her voice swoops and coquettishly plays: hints of Adele and Lana Del Rey make their presence known. May lets her voice glide and syncopate; pausing and retreating, she whips up a hell of a storm. Driving guitars and steadfast percussion ensures that the song never drops a step or loses pace. Our intrepid and brave heroine has some figuring out to do: she asks her subject if he’d look away (“while I figure out another hand to play“). You imagine city streets: the dying light sees the song’s players walk by- each with their own thoughts and feelings- as the rest of civilisation casually walks by- the strength of the vocal and composition allows your mind to wander and imagine. The chorus has a familiarity and catchiness to it: bright and breezy as well as teasing and tempting; contemporary tones and past-day beauty nestle alongside one another- it adds huge weight to the song. A propulsive and captivating composition grabs your attention; the honest and heartfelt lyrics grip your mind- it is the gliding and elliptical vocal that hits hardest. Darker strings greet Magnetic Man: it is a brief moodiness, however. Phillipps deftly transitions from shadier and downbeat to upbeat and light-hearted (in the space of a few seconds): the intro. is brief but brilliant. Whereas See Her saw erroneous intentions and inner heartache, here May seems more flirtatious and sexy: her voice is awash with intention. Such is the power of the duo, you pick up on instant hallmarks: the unique vocal deployment and pace; the exciting and layered sonics- they are all present and correct here. May sings a paen to her magnetic man: a human that has given her power and causing quite an excitement. Although there is some bite and curtness under the skin, our frontwoman appears breathless and girlish- defined by her electrifying vocal performance. High-note Kate Bush transforms to huskier Lana Del Rey; London Grammar operatic beauty changes into salacious growl. I mention other artists, yet I employ them only as examples (as opposed to obvious standouts): May has the talent of the aforementioned, yet wraps everything up in her inimitable and striking silks. The percussion acts as a heartbeat: steady when May campaigns and implores; rampant when her hair stands on end. In spite of some shivering sweat, there is a lingering resentment and wounded pride. Our frontwoman wants to be “unforgotten“: the song’s centrepiece has had his share of attention and patronage. Once Magnetic Man completes its surveyance, you are left spellbound: the pace, energy and mesmerizing grip each track has leaves you hungry for more- whilst words and melodies are repeated in your brain. Smoky and shadowy strings tangle with primal drum beats: 1984‘s intro. has a sense of paranoia and fear to it. Issues such as celebrity and death are examined: players and figures are trotted out and examined: befitting of the song’s title, the nature of fame and fulfilment are put under the microscope. Dizzying electronics (touches of ’80s synths. present themselves) spar with Wild West guitars (as well as pulsating percussion)- when the chorus hits, the song’s largest and more exciting explosion is elicited. Anti-heroes (and heroines) arrive and make their entrance (with it being said: “no one cared“); May’s voice is at its more direct and menacing. Huge and bewitching power augments and elevates the song’s words; Phillipps and (stick man) Meek inject as much gravity and colour into 1984: ably and impressively supporting May’s breathless convictions. By the closing stages, you are swept up in the track’s dance and sway: bringing a stunning E.P. to a memorable close. Over the course of a trio of numbers, so much emotion and scenery is crossed-off: there are no wasted breaths or hollow moments. The production is impressive and strong; the music is given a clear voice and chance to shine- making everything hugely vital and direct. Phillipps’s strings project such a compelling sense of occasion and atmosphere: he never overwhelms or comes on too strong; instead ensuring each note and line is as meaningful and mobile as possible. Meeks’s percussive strength makes tracks such as 1984 and Magnetic Man what they are: at once dominating and hard-hitting; the next softer and more reserved. Too many bands and acts negate the importance of percussion (little thought is provided), yet here it is right at the fore- blending perfectly with Phillipps’s taut and expressive workings. May wonderfully brings to life the E.P.’s effecting and stunning words; her voice is a riot of sounds and sensations. I have highlighted the likes of London Grammar and Lana Del Rey: our frontwoman manages to eclipse both. Each track twists, swoops and burns: May shifts and transforms her voice to ensure that every word becomes as compelling as possible- it is quite possibly the most impressive aspect of En L’air. My only minor gripe would be the issue of lyrics: the need to include them on Bandcamp. The duo’s debut was accompanied by lyrics (for each track)- there does not seem to be any for En L’air. Some of the lines and words get mixed too deeply within the compositions, making it easy to miss (or misunderstand) certain thoughts. Dark Furs have shown how strong they are as lyricists, so it would be great to see their words on the page: ensuring that you do not misconstrue anything. It is my only slight against the E.P., which is an embarrassment of riches. By the final notes of 1984, you are left wanting more: eager to hear more fromwhat lies in store for Dark Furs.
Since their debut E.P. Having been impressed and stunned by the impressions their music left, I was in no doubt that En L’air would be a suitably intriguing follow-up: it is one of the finest E.P.s of the year. I am always stunned when a duo (and small D.I.Y. acts) come along and whip up so much majesty and curiosity- given the dominance of bands and their lack of restrictions. Through En L’air, you are sucked into the music: the duo have a knack of pulling the listener in, and making sure their words and notes resonate and remain. Subjects and themes of old remain- broken hearts and personal strife- yet there seems to be more optimism and diversity here: the past year has seen Dark Furs go from strength to strength. One of the most distinctive aspects of the two-piece are their lyrics: intelligent, original and literary (with some cryptic edges). impassioned and stunning vocals bring vivid life to each track; atmospheric, gutsy guitar work lodges in your mind- topped off with melodies and lines that demand repeated listens. This eye-catching U.S.-Anglo alliance have been receiving glowing reviews off of the back of En L’air: critics and commentators have been extolling the virtues of their magnetising music. Their names may not be synonymous and well-heeled in the U.K. (as-of-yet), so I hope that more radio stations and ears pick them up- ensuring that thousands of new fans come their way. May and Phillipps will be embarking on U.S. tour dates throughout the year- I hope they come and visit London (and venues throughout the country) as well. It is always rewarding and pleasurable when you hear a unique act come through- and present much food for thought. Music is crowded and compacted; so many artists have their names out there, making it hard to find breathing room- many more find the sense of suffocation too overwhelming. Plenty of Indie, Blues and Metal goodness has reared its head (in terms of new music): if that is your bag, then there are plenty of options out there. Few acts come through, that seamlessly pair Mood Rock and Dream Pop together- whilst ensuring that the end result is so strong. Dark Furs have plenty of aces up their sleeves: new horizons and fan bases are going to be on their mind. If you have not encountered the glistening and ardent young duo: make sure you make amends to resolve this…
AND experience the wonder.
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