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Those Darlins’ Joyous Romp Live In Atlanta

A warm, glad-to-be-here, PBR-and-whiskey buzz seemingly hung over the packed-out crowd at the EARL in East Atlanta last Friday to catch Those Darlins on their seemingly never-ending tour in support of last year’s excellent Blur The Line.  The ATL has been good to Those Darlins over the years and has become a bit of a “home turf” of sorts for the Darlins, with the band taking the stage at several venues around the city over the years

Blur The Line, Those Darlins’ third record, found the Nashville group reaching a new high creatively and releasing their best record to date.  The songs are more focused, equipped with a fuller, lush sound that’s less ramshackle than their previous recordings while still sounding exactly how a Those Darlins record should sound.  The band seems more patient, content and confident with who they are.  By now they’ve blazed their trail via years on the road honing their sound, and it shows in spades.

The highlights are aplenty on Blur The Line, including “Can’t Think” which features the fantastically delectable phrase “All my pride’s gonna leave me / heart-fucked again”.  The tune then slips into exactly the kind of guitar breakdown that has signaled the Darlins confidence with stretching out their newly evolved sound. Guitarist Nikki Kvarnes recently told about the band’s recording approach this time around:

Just time to reflect on the past couple of years. Like, actually spend some time with ourselves and dive deep into some stuff that’s really personal. This is the first time — well, not the first time, but it was a different kind of way of writing the album. Jessi would work on her songs and I would work on my songs, lyrically, and then we’d come together and go, “Well, what about changing this?” or, “What do you mean by this?” It was just a different approach than trying to write really personal songs with another songwriter.

Those Darlins enlisted the services of producer Roger Moutenout (Yo La Tengo, John Cale, JEFF The Brotherhood) this time around, with Kvarnes saying of his contribution: “we were all about working on the album with him and trying something different, working with a different producer, ’cause we’re kind of a different band now too.”   Last year also saw Those Darlins settle into what is hopefully a stable lineup by replacing guitarist Kelley Anderson and adding Atlanta ex-pat Adrian Barrera (Barreracudas, Gentleman Jesse and His Men) on bass. Barrera’s addition also means that for the first time there is no switching of instruments onstage, something that seemed to add to the band’s newfound focus during the live show.

Roles within the band seem to be more clearly defined and Varnes and Zazu continue to be a two-headed force to be reckoned with onstage, exuding equal parts sex and menace while promising an alluring, shit-kickin’ good time.  Sirens with tattoos, southern accents and electric guitars who very possibly might kick your ass if you fuck with them.  You find yourself wanting to get an impulsive tattoo of their names across your heart or go on a Mikey and Mallory Knox-esque trek across the country with them.  Amorous crime spree or no, Those Darlins continue to prove themselves an evolving band with plenty more up their sleeves.