From their base of operations in Minneapolis, Dark Dark Dark has been winning hearts with their earnest, soulful blend of Americana Folk music and Jazz ever since debuting in 2008 with The Snow Magic. Originally conceived back in 2006 as a collaborative project between songwriters and lead vocalists Nona Marie Invie and Marshall LaCount, the band has cycled through a diverse array of musicians and instruments in their time, earning them the title of chamber-folk music. The broad spectrum of influences the band has exhibited creates a feeling of controlled chaos with many of their songs, and an ethereal, soothing tone on the calmer of the album’s tracks.
With their third and latest album, Who Needs Who, Dark Dark Dark finds themselves placing the focus on haunting, mournful vocals instead of multi-layered chaotic carnival-esque peaks. That isn’t to say this album lacks energy; the album’s third track, “Last Time I Saw Joe,” brings an almost militaristic energy to the album, with sharp, rolling drums contrasted with Nona’s mournful vocals and a lone, equally mournful horn backing her wordless reverie of a chorus. This kind of track highlights what has drawn listeners to Dark Dark Dark all along, creating a sort of bittersweet contradiction. The rest of the album, however, brings a much more downbeat sound to the table, reflecting the somber subjects encountered throughout. This solemn nature has led to a much lowered focus of the roaring accordion Nona brought to many of the bands other works. Rather than multi-instrumental layers with a solo instrument rising above the rest, the album focuses on the lonelier solo, minimalizing the sound in a fitting, and occasionally wrenching manner, with piano frequently taking over where accordion would once have been. On the whole, these features assemble to create a vastly different, but entirely appropriate album to follow up 2010’s Wild Go, and while some listeners may find that in many ways the band they last heard from has changed, the evolution is welcome.