The Upshot: If you’re vibrating with rage at the turn things have taken following the election, and who isn’t, you want it and maybe need it.
BY JENNIFER KELLY
“Bombs on the Beach” kicks in with serrated guitar and finger snaps, it lumber along in on the slow, swagger of bass, picking its way through blasted imagery that might be the apocalypse or the Turkish beach where that Syrian kid washed up or maybe just West Philly. John Sharkey III, who sings, croons in a demented baritone that acknowledges what a piece of shit the world is, but cedes nothing to that fact. The standout song on Dark Blue’s second album is desolate, defiant and curiously uplifting, the unsettling centerpiece of one of 2016’s best rock albums.
Sharkey, if the name rings a bell, was the front man for Clockcleaner, known for throwing beer cans and pissing on merch tables while holding down the anarchic mayhem of aught-punk’s finest. He was the main creative force between synth-garage-y Puerto Rico Flowers. Dark Blue – that’s Sharkey, Andrew Mackie Nelson (also of Ceremony and Paint It Black) and John Sneeringer (also Purling Hiss and Strands of Oak) – put out its first album, Pure Reality in 2014.
Like its predecessor, Start of the World blisters and lacerates, but it’s catchier and more anthemic. “Never Wanted to Hurt You” is a bomb-thrower, sporting the most beautiful guitar racket on the whole album, and pushing at alienation’s half-formed scab with a dirty fingernail. (When a song has the phrase “I never wanted to hurt you,” there’s always a “but” isn’t there?) Bristling with misanthropy, charged with a euphoric wrath, the song is loop-end-of-the-noose dystopian, but somehow still radiates happy defiance. Later, “Tired of the Poor” takes on income inequality, punching down at the less fortunate with sardonic glee (“I’m so tired of the poor…and all their sniveling beliefs and all their families, all of their servilely obese, all their recently deceased”) and a Clash-like chugging, hammering anthemry.
“Union of Buffoons” leads with huge, crashing guitar chords that splinter into beautiful dissonance. Sharkey’s echo-shrouded, goth-haunted voice intones ominously about daddies with secrets and baboons in cages and a pervading aura of fear. If it wasn’t a political song when he wrote it, it’s one now, presciently suited to post November 8th consternation. If you’re vibrating with rage at the turn things have taken, and who isn’t, you want Start of the World and maybe need it.
DOWNLOAD: “Bombs on the Beach” “I Never Wanted to Hurt You”