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Wednesday, 29 July 2009

Dark Sparks - 2009 Demo REVIEW

Dark Sparks are a reformed and adjusted indie rock band from Sheffield who, with the boost of a new line-up on top of already garnered success in autumn 2008, are looking to take their infectious mix of darkened 80s post-punk and contemporary British indie rock to even wider audiences than they managed last year. In their relatively brief time together as a band (they only formed in January 2007) they've toured and written extensively, and played a prominent selection of support slots with the likes of The Enemy, Boy Kill Boy, The Whip, The Courteeners, Air Traffic, Blood Red Shoes, The Subways and The Rumble Strips to name but a few.

They've added a keyboard, a new drummer and an extra guitar to the line-up in the early part of 2009, putting in heavy practice to hone their emotive sound further into a tighter and more precise execution. Dark Sparks' schizophrenic musical structures - ranging from creepy fingerpicked acoustics to screeching overdrives - scream echoes of Biffy Clyro, but the unsettling calmness in Leigh Greenwood's vocals put Dark Sparks' sound closer to that of Placebo.

The band, made up of Leigh and Adam Greenwood, Steve Charlton, Simon Green and Nicky Sykes, are determined that all their music be made available for free (you can download any of their tracks for free at their website), and their latest two track EP is no exception. Demo opener We Are Just Flies begins as a calculated vocal over a sinister fingerpick, which slowly but surely leads into a crashing rhythm guitar and squealing lead line. The whole effect is not far from some of those classic solos from Radiohead's Bends and Bloc Party's Silent Alarm. Dark Sparks' style owes a lot to their contemporaries, but as with any new band which deserves respect, they draw their influences into something wider, creating music new and exciting, and very loud.

The second track on the EP, Crying In The Spotlight, is where the 80s influence really shines through. A slow and haunting, synthy guitar line to begin is quickly joined by the disturbing first line of "Sex inside a darkened room, blinded by the purple moon." Soon enough the newly-wedded pair of guitars take over; and what begins a cold and downbeat track transforms itself into a 3 minute burst of energy, propelled forward by aggressive percussion and a screaming Bloc Party wall of overdrive.

The whole effect of Dark Sparks' music is adrenaline pumping to say the least; it's no wonder following their ecletic selection of support slots that NME called them 'Ace' in it's radar section and Steve Lamacq made Into The Dark his track of the week. Fellow 2008 track Red Skies made its way onto German National Radio, a fantastic location to break into on the indie rock scene. Previous success combined with a reshuffle the band sees as a 'natural progression' can only provide proof of further successes for a band with so much gig experience already tucked under it's live performance belt.

Dark Sparks and their self-promotion are proof that bands don't need a record label to garner a (as channel 4 teletext called it) 'slaving fanbase' of their own. Dark Sparks intend to set about the year excessively gigging and recording, and building their reputation the good 'old fashioned' way, by playing their hearts out every night. If they keep this up, Dark Sparks are surely a UK band with great things to come.

Dark Sparks - We Are Just Flies
Dark Sparks - Crying In The Spotlight

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