Featuring members of Strands of Oak, Ceremony, and Clockcleaner, Dark Blue is a band that straddles a few genres and then takes a hammer to them. The Philadelphia group's newest album, Victory is Rated, is out now via 12XU and it's a superb and affecting release of brooding post-punk.
At their best here, like on the punchy "Challenge of Death", Dark Blue manage to infect this style of music with a lot of new energy, even as "Mrs. John" has a faint whiff of Britpop about it -- or at least an affection for the style -- while the peppier "She Loves Me" is simple and effective pop-punk of the sort that bands like Husker Du once cranked out. The players here -- John Sharkey III (vocals, guitar), Andrew Mackie Nelson (bass, piano), Michael Sneeringer (drums), and B. David Walsh (guitars) -- work up an affecting racket on lots of Victory is Rated, especially on the Cure-like "Different World", or the lyrical and downright catchy "Let Me Tell You A New Story", this album's obvious hit single in a perfect world.
If there are faint traces of past college rock pioneers working their way through the grooves here, it's to Dark Blue's credit that so much of this works. Sharkey's deep voice and the heft the other players inject into the hooks makes Victory is Rated entirely listenable.
Victory is Rated by Dark Blue is out now via 12XU.
More details on Dark Blue via the band's official Facebook page.
[Photo: Angela Betancourt]