by Joseph Purcell
Records are complex beasts. Each one offering a different experience, a different feel, and a kaleidoscope of different emotions. In that regard, the Sussex duo of Jessica Davies and Katherine Blamire tread very closely to the creative line of complexity – fusing the gentle heart of contemporary folk with the nostalgic swagger of blues rock. Musical fusions of juxtaposed genres do not always produce, and can often leave the listener desiring the safety of the familiar. So it must be noted that the sixth Smoke Fairies album, Darkness Brings the Wonders Home, feels like a bursting pot of ideas – one that is as enchanting and enthralling in spots as it is confused in others.
Opener, One the Wing, feels lost in its own desire to follow the classic rock structure, while Elevator and Disconnect never quite capture the hooks they are looking for.
Despite these setbacks, Darkness Brings the Wonders Home still demands attention with a rollicking run of blues swagger as it progresses. Out of the Woods hits the perfect boasting contortion of PJ Harvey – equal parts seductive, fierce and spiteful. Chocolate Rabbit rips through the heart of the record, casting the memory of some of the early misses aside. Before the peak of the album hits with the fantastic Don’t You Want to Spiral Out of Control – contrasting the soft shrouded vocal din with an all-out assault of yet more blues guitar. Before the record is brought to its close with the aptly titled Super Tremolo – an anthemic tour de force of a track, which is underpinned by the sultry vocal howls, ‘Now its taken over me, the world is tearing at the seams… and I’m never coming back again.’
Darkness Brings the Wonders Home has moments that feel as fresh and vibrant as any of the new emerging talent on the UK’s burgeoning alternative scene. The simmering contempt and fury of its second half is at odds with the safety of its early tracks. Smoke Fairies have almost delivered a fantastic record for the early part of 2020.
Secret Meeting score: 70