Sometimes, for no apparent reason, you remember an album that you got a while ago, and only really listened to once. Sometimes, you’ll re-listen to that album out of interest. Sometimes, you’ll realise that that album is absolutely fantastic. This happened to me with Dartz!’ debut album, This Is My Ship.
Described variously as indie, math-rock and post-punk, the truth is that this Middlesbrough-based band don’t really fit in any of these genres, but rather take them all in and then spit them out in some kind of brilliant gobbet of musical weirdness. There’s no doubt that Dartz! are a product of Noughties indie, but they’re certainly a left-field version of that, eschewing straightforward indie-pop chords and lyrical conventions for something a lot more interesting. The drums are far more prominent than in most indie bands, pushing the band faster and faster, filling songs with symbol crashes whilst overlapping dual vocals increase the frenetic pace of the songs.
There are some genuinely brilliant moments too – the main guitar riff in “Prego Triangolos”, if given some serious overdrive, wouldn’t sound out of place in a metal song, and the song itself is a jerky mass of brilliant interchanging sounds and strange falsetto backing vocals. “A Simple Hypothetical” is all about mad scientists and the breakdown into call-and response shouts of “Lab coats?” “Check!” “Oxygen?” “Check! Check!” is maddeningly catchy. In fact, every song seems to brim with lovely little flourishes and ideas that make you appreciate what’s gone into creating them. This isn’t some join-the-dots album of filler, every song has had genuine effort put into it to create a record that never lets up, and never makes you want to let go.
I haven’t heard their newer mini-album (apparently a concept album about a made up village, interestingly enough), and apparently they’re now on hiatus to finish their degrees (an admirable decision that I salute them for), but this album alone is enough to make me rank this band amongst some of the most interesting and satisfying to listen to in my iTunes, and I certainly won’t be ignoring this little gem again.