Six years after their first batch of trad-dubstep singles, four years after the skittering buzz of their breakthrough “Aidy’s Girl Is a Computer,” and three years after their synthpop-homaging debut full-length North, Darkstar just keep getting more delicate. Their sophomore album News from Nowhere is a tricky album to grasp — placid on the surface, but built to make its intricacies emerge with patient listening. Instrumentation leans heavy on airy, bright pianos and chimes, the basslines hover just as much as they throb, and vocalist James Buttery has an almost translucent quality to his voice that still sounds inhumanly frail no matter how many multitracks and effects it’s run through. The best moments on the album pair that sense of floaty fragility with an undercurrent of urgency, whether it’s emotional (the aching minimalism of the woozily lovestruck “Young Hearts”) or rhythmic (“Amplified Ease” and its clattering hoofbeat snares). In swapping out the melancholy of North for a more bucolic feeling, News from Nowhere is bound to take some getting used to for fans who were initially drawn in by Darkstar’s strikingly moody earlier work. But go in expecting a low-key sort of sunny euphoria and it’ll feel like an intriguing new facet to their style.
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