Slingshot Dakota - Dark Hearts
Record Label: Topshelf Records
Release Date: November 6, 2012
There’s something to be said about the simplicity of some types of music. Sure, it can be purely blissful to be wowed by brain-jarring musicianship, but the power of an emotionally tugging song that just hits all the right moves can be just as satisfying. Slingshot Dakota is a testament to simplicity at times – the band is literally a drum and keys duo that often seemingly plays the sonic background of the unleashing of a fall day or a you-name-it scene to end one of those twentysomething love stories. But the juxtaposition of lush melodies against earnest, often blunt lyricism is what makes Dark Hearts the treasure that it is. It’s easy enough to hear in these twelve tracks that there’s something purely moving about the band’s sophomore LP – that much is for sure.
Starting with a dab of build up in “Another Cigarette”, Dark Hearts wastes no time in aiming straight for the heartstrings. The driving hum of “May Day” is surely an instant stomper that sets a steady mood for the tracks that follow, as punching drums and delicate vocals float the restrained instrumentation to almost instant memorability before the biggest moments of the song even arrive in our ears. That back and forth of bombastic and mellow is what makes it tough for this album to feel like it is anything but honest and enjoyable even by those who might be skeptical of the sound itself. Where “Gossip” and “Rasta Bacca” are upbeat, drum-driven crushers that ooze with bubbly synth, while “Disaster” and “Light” are still energetic in their own way but put themselves in a slower, deliberate vibe that give the vocals a little bit more of a shine.
For the most part, the duo’s songwriting is pretty much on point, whether they’re thundering along to the faster moments or swelling through key-based buzzing and slower drumming. The one misfire is in the clumsy-sounding rhythms of “Words”, which gets weighed down by being both off-time and a bit too accentuated. It just doesn’t really seem to fit the feel of the other tracks when the first half of the song leans so heavily on it. The church organ bits in the middle make for a great resuscitation to keep the track from being complete filler, but having to get to that point is a bit of a challenge considering where this disc takes us.
But to be completely honest, the thing that is arguably able to have the biggest resonation is the lyricism of Dark Hearts. “Good Year” isn’t flashy with it’s heart-breaking poetry, but it is fucking honest. You don’t just hear the words being sung, but you feel them. “May Day” is a slightly different beast though, as it spouts grim ideas against the upbeat track, while “Disaster” feels like a meeting between the two in its transparency and glimmer-of-hope tendencies. And as energetic or spacey as the album might sound at points, it is only certainty that these tracks will really translate well to the live set when they become a part of it – that is if they already haven’t.
It would be easy to say Dark Hearts is confident and gripping enough to sweep you off of your feet if the keys and drums dynamic of sound seems to be up your alley. But why wouldn’t it be? With such songwriting, Slingshot Dakota are sure to make your heart stir or your head bang – if not both.