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DARTZ! – This Is My Ship (CD, Xtra Mile Recordings)

Posted: February 17th, 2007, by Simon Minter

What with Arctic Monkeys, Futureheads and the (geographically realigned from Oxford to Ashby de la Zouche) Young Knives all achieving varying degrees of success and fame lately, not to mention the constantly impressive output of bands from places like Leeds and Nottingham, it seems that a non-Southern demographic is driving a lot of indie music these days. That’s not to say that London isn’t still a focus for bands and the music industry, but it’s interesting that bands that exist in distant locations, far from the perceived centre of music, seem to have much more fun in their music. It’s refreshing to hear enjoyment and silliness in music at times, as opposed to relentless grit and ‘real’-ness.

Dartz! have no short supply of bouncing, ‘up’ songs, on the basis of this, their debut album. They’re at the connecting point of the melodic straightforwardness evident in the music of the aforementioned bands, and the complex guitar patterns and syncopated rhythm structures of more hip, in-the-know outfits like Battles and Foals. What stops Dartz! from turning out twelve songs of middling copyist style-over-content short term appeal – which is, I’m sure, all that many of their contemporaries are capable of – is a genuine skill at assembling songs and injecting just enough individuality to hint at great things to come.

So for every melody-rich, comfortably familiar tune like previous single ‘Once, twice, again!’ or ‘Laser Eyers’, which fit right in with the listening habits of hip young haircuts about town, there is a glimpse into a depth of ingenuity and quality evident here. Be it ‘Prego Triangolos’ with its falsetto backing vocals, ‘St. Petersburg’ with its ridiculously catchy funk rhythm section, or the unnamed secret track which effortlessly develops Tortoise-like lazy repetitions into dreamy Explosions In The Sky-style layers of distortion and echo, Dartz! have done on this album what I hoped they would. They’ve taken a template of influences and style which currently works well for many bands right now, and started to twist it with their own ideas and skill into something new. What’s very exciting is that they seem to be able to capture that magic combination of radio-friendly recognition and beard-stroker-friendly quirkiness. This is how bands become influential, rather than being purely based on their influences.

Xtra Mile Recordings

Simon Minter

Simon joined diskant after falling on his head from a great height. A diskant legend in his own lifetime Simon has risen up the ranks through a mixture of foolhardiness and wit. When not breaking musical barriers with top pop combo Sunnyvale Noise Sub-element or releasing records in preposterously exciting packaging he relaxes by looking like Steve Albini.


1 Response to DARTZ! – This Is My Ship (CD, Xtra Mile Recordings)

  1. Anonymous

    spot on review, this album is BRILLIANT!