Darkly haunting and persistently mesmeric, The Lightning Echo is the new album from UK rockers Dark Stares. The successor to their acclaimed debut, Darker Days Are Here to Stay, the new release provides twelve tracks which lure the listener and imagination into the realm between warm and portentous dreams; each a siren of intimation and reflection which enjoyably proved rather hard to escape.
St Albans hailing, Dark Stares has been a persistent captivation from their early tracks and EPs such as Octopon and Soul Contract through to that creatively potent first full-length of last year. Looking back to Darker Days Are Here to Stay, there is no doubt that The Lightning Echo is the natural progression to its predecessor but equally it has evolved its own fascination and unique character of sound; a nagging seduction which wraps the senses like a crepuscular animal.
The album immediately strides through ears with You Know Me, the track’s high kneed beats stamping authority on attention as the fuzz bred grooves of Harry Collins wind around them and the equally magnetic tones of vocalist Miles Kristian Howell. From the single song alone it is easy to hear why Queens Of The Stone Age is often used as a comparison though there is no escaping the singular identity of the Dark Stares sound either.
The highly rousing start is prolonged by the similarly anthemic Dance, a tenacious command on the body bound in the dark climes of surf/desert rock. Again the imposing yet contagious lure of Brett Harland Howell’s bass and Taylor Howell’s spirited beats manipulate song and listener, the Middle Eastern lures cast by Collin’s guitar quite irresistible in one of the album’s major peaks.
Next up Spell You’ve Cast is a similarly beguiling temptress if a slightly sinistrous one, its body a writhing tease of grooves and enticing vocals across almost predatory rhythms while the following Crusader brings a dustier desert rock landscaped croon with volatility in its rich fertile earth. Each made for a riveting proposition if the first with fiercer temptation as too Mr Midnight with its rapacious crawl and tantalising menace. As those around it, the magnificent encounter spins a web of flavour and suggestion sparking imagination and appetite for its tenebrific charm and bait.
There is something of a Doors meets Muse shimmer to The Shadows and Faceless Man, the first with its mercurial climate and compelling sonic grumble breeding sheer dark captivation and through the second wrapping an emotive melodic shroud around ears before breaking out into its pensive musing. Sandwiched between them is Today, a song edging more firmly to the sixties psychedelia of Morison and co. and though it does not quite match up to those alongside one that only grips attention and enjoyment.
After them, In My Pocket initially shimmers before catching flame, repeating its persuasive melodic cycle with greater intensity as Zedi Forder-esque hues bring earnest breath to the increasingly compelling encounter while in turn intrigue soaked and with disquieting glamour Misty Lanes makes its potent play for best track honours.
The album concludes with the radiantly rapacious saunter of Dead and Gone and lastly the hearty rock ‘n’ roll of Rebel Angel. Both tracks hit the spot with the first another simply adding to the numerous reasons as to why The Lightning Echo should not be ignored.
Easily The Lightning Echo is the finest moment with Dark Stares to date, one which for us only gets more thrilling and addictive by the listen.
The Lightning Echo is out across most stores May 31st.
Pete RingMaster 30/05/2019
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