The Dark Ages – Provincials (reviewed by T. Bebedor)

I love when bands take a genre and push it a little to see where things lead, it’s a strange, yet refreshing, brew that makes up the duo’s second album, ‘The Dark Ages’. Pitched as something called ‘dark folk’ the music sits somewhere between David Lynch and the Brothers Grimm, it’s time to say cheerio to spring mornings among the dewy-floored forest and hello to the hours before the dawn when the forest is at it’s most dark, forboding and sinister.

We kick things off with ‘March Into The Ocean’, it’s part spoken word and part singing and sets up the whole haunting album brilliantly before second track ‘Skara Brae’ appears, taking us into a down-turning journey into the mind of a spurned lover, the final chapter of the song features broken, static-filled angst that is unsettling and enthralling in equal parts. To be fair, that last statement pretty much applies to the whole album, at times the music is unsettling, you can hear the darkness bubbling beneath the surface, yet the music remains enthralling and interesting.

Singer Polly Perry has a crystal clear voice, an enchanting sound that betrays the message the songs get across, like a beautiful witch it tempts and attracts only to be slapped with lyrics such as “bodies unattended in the aisles” that floor you in a second.

Other styles of music creep into the mix, there is a fine Spanish/flamenco-tinged song in ‘The Empire Line’ and a nod to Led Zeppelin and White Stripes with the anthemic ‘Inkerman’ (which, I’ll admit, I returned to a few times) but this is an album for those that like their folk to have a little more depth than a vast proportion of what is currently on other, this is top shelf stuff – in quality and in terms of where it would sit if it were a magazine – not for the faint hearted and, at times, not an easy ride, but a satisfying one none the less.

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