You’ll be starved to find a band whose ethic mimics America’s DIY punk scene in Oslo as closely as Dark Times. Three girls who not-so-long-ago started from scratch, had never picked up instruments before– enrolled in music lessons, brainstormed band names, and started gigging and releasing songs (Read story here). It’s a endearing story, insert something Richard Hell could have said himself, “We had no fucking clue what we were doing, but knew we wanted to be loud.”
Since Dark Times’ first cassette tape in January 2011, the band has come a long way, but at the same time, hasn’t (which isn’t necessarily a bad thing – staying true to their original intentions). The band has built up a live repertoire, now with a permanent line-up. They’ve released a bunch of EPs that’s gotten strong appeal not just in the hardcore scene in Norway, but following an feature in Maximum Rock’n’Roll, overseas as well. Their uber cool artwork from German illustrator Maren Karlson and thoughtful interviews have only given fans room for love. Now, finally, nearly four years later, the band has released a debut full-length.
The songwriting isn’t a terribly long departure from previous EPs. Immediate musical references of course come to mind, from more consciously 80s LA punk scene Black Flag, The Germs, Dead Kennedys to perhaps less consciously, Huggy Bear, and the plethora of post-90’s riot grrrl bands. Dark Times may not have the most commanding snarls or grooves, but their style is direct and without BS. Opener “Be Cool” has the bubblegum pop swagger reminiscent of the Ramones. Track 4, “Labels” is another great tune from Side A, a perfect punk mixtape piece and a call to action: “Now take a look at yourself / What do you know? / You poison attitude / Has got to go”.
Title track “Give”, and the opener to Side B is also has a bass kicker of a melodic, highly dance-able tune, definitely meant to get the kids going: “I can’t give you / What you expect of me / I can’t promise / To be a living dream / I do what I can / I do what I know.”
Other standouts include, “Never Know” when singer AK in some ways seems more in her element singing then hollering, and “Almost”, which has a sneaky The Bit breakdown typical of sludgy, Oslo’s Black Hole crew. Not too unreasonable considering the recording history and collaborative nature of these bands.
The only criticism, as with many of even your favorite Black Flag album, is there’s only so much you can do with four chords. A slight monotony creeps in towards the last track. But I think what’s more important is, these well-produced eleven tracks convincingly rouse listeners into the spirit of album. And we all know should you ever get jaded with spirit, well— then you can call yourself a boring-ass, serious grown-up.
“Give” is out on LP, CD, and digitally on October 9th
The release show is at The Crossroad Club in Oslo, October 18th
Support: Kommunalt Svømmeanlegg (Trondheim) and DJ Trollungen (Haust, Urbanoia, Blood Suckers)