Darkwave is a term that’s newer to my vocabulary. Much like “coldwave” (which I still am entirely perplexed by), it’s a term that I’ve seen used to refer to many groups I enjoy but I can’t really pinpoint a sound or concept that screams darkwave. Instead, I know some bands that are generally considered darkwave, so I use this term to refer to them. 002, the newest release from Decades/Failures, is a tape that’s making it easier for me to feel comfortable with this term, as I can’t stop listening to it and I feel relatively certain that this is a great album to represent the genre for an outsider like me.
002 opens with the melancholic trudge of “Everyday is the Same,” with detached vocals over a simple, catchy backdrop. Soft synths and constant drumming blur the edges of the bleakness that is Decades/Failures’ overall message without detracting from it. Without becoming an exercise in repetition, this does more or less set the pace and mood that the rest of the album will follow. The music would almost fall into a dance-friendly category, but I find it just a bit too depressing to actually make me want to dance. It’s the perfect in-between for a live setting (and I really hope this band does play live), allowing the artist to perform with some degree of energy while still creating an atmosphere of sorrow. Some of the best moments come when the formula is shifted slightly, allowing for variety in the midst of the gloom. “City Streets” has a more oppressive, ominous feeling at times that makes the passionate vocal delivery feel like more of a relief. It’s a nice change of pace that works perfectly for the song’s position towards the middle of the album. Another highlight is “Gentle Forces,” which opens up the tape’s B-side with an almost optimistic feeling. The song carries on into the almost blissful “Tell Me How,” which is currently my favorite song on the album. Closing the tape is “Everything in Black” which prevents the B-side from being too cheerful. Ending on a dark note brings me back to attention and makes the album beg for repeated plays.
This is one of the best tapes I’ve come across this year and I can’t recommend it enough. Grab a copy from Dead Tank Records or get a digital copy directly from the group’s bandcamp, but be sure to get it if you’re into post-punk, new wave, or any other bleak yet synth-heavy forms of music.