The Darcys | Fear & Loneliness | (The Darcys Records Inc./Warner Music)
4 out of 5 stars
Hollywood should come with a warning. Its promise of fame and fortune, seeing your name sparkle in lights, never offsets the crushing loneliness one feels when reality sets in. With their fourth long player, a concept record called Fear & Loneliness, musicians Jason Couse and Wes Marskell navigate such tumultuous waters ─ swimming from red-cheeked elation to inevitable paranoia.
Leaping into Los Angeles themselves, exchanging Toronto’s glimmering cityscape for sun-bleached waves, the duo, known as The Darcys, conjure up a surreal fantasy, funneling their own anxieties and fears into an unnamed cowboy character. As such, they kick up dust through shiny funk-pop and risk casting the listener into a hypnotic dream-state. “Don’t tell me, it’s just a dream / Don’t tell me it’s not going to end like a movie,” they yawn into the fuzzy-headed “Hollywood Ending,” still buying into the city’s intense allure.
Moments later, the fog slowly lifts. “I know that I ignored the signs,” they divulge with the disco-ball spinnin’ “Too Late.” Flashes of brilliance pop and crackle like marquee bulbs slowly detonating, shells of glass scattering with gale force, and their reveries never lose their potency. On “Off the Deep,” disillusionment sours what once bloomed with opportunity and adventure, as their boot scootin’ cowboy man learns the hard way what it means to be a fame-seeker.
Fear & Loneliness hits harder and far bolder than 2016’s Centerfold, and a four-year gap clearly permitted them to dig in their heels. Couse and Marskell fling a fistful of classic pop glitter (“Shangri-Lost”) before ripping their heart from their chest (“Cowboy Movies”), confronting society’s learned masculinity (“I hide all my tears on the light-up dance floor,” they mourn with the tradition-busting “Boys Don’t”), and peering into Hollywood’s glamour-tinted past (“The Glory Days”). Sometimes, it takes years for a band to come fully into their own ─ and hello world, The Darcys have arrived!