With its rich pastels, neon lights and the synth lines of its dramatic pop, the ‘80s is often fodder for comedy. So how do you take an album like The Darcys’ Centerfold? Is it serious, or ironic, worth the kind of chuckle we gave The Darkness when it dropped its retro-hard rock anthem, “I Believe in a Thing Called Love?”

Perhaps it doesn’t matter. With spotless production, the songs perfectly recreate all the tropes of the era, from bass lines to high pitched hooks. “Miracle,” a dance floor-friendly pop number dressed up in funk, features a heavy bass pluck and a melodic chorus layered in a chorus of vocals which give it a far more rich sound than any duo should be capable of.

Yet this isn’t just a retro record; it stands on its own merits. “San Diego, 1988,” a slower plodding alt-pop track, features minimal instrumentation along with Jason Couse’s layered vocals pleading to take you out of your context and on a road trip–presumably, in his DeLorean. Despite such specific titles, the preoccupation with the ‘80s eventually fades, which reveals Centerfold for what it is: a solid pop album. The band explores the same territory Friendly Fires did a few years ago, but without feeling any obligation to modernize. The Darcys reach further back and approach things with an almost studied mastery of old soul that borders on cheese but never quite falls in.

“Virtual Reality” calls out to you to “Make me believe it!” with more grunts and squeals in the background than a lost Jackson 5 single. “Arizona Hwy” never wants to lose the feeling as it takes the road trip a little further down the road. “Coming up for Air” goes deep into the cheesy, dramatic synth lines which remain anchored by solid and modern vocals.

The heavy-hitting production team includes Grammy-winning producer Shawn Everett and engineer Matty Green, who worked with TV on the Radio and The Weeknd. There’s a confidence in every note that enables the album to be more than just a throwback. The duo basically abandoned lead guitar, licks often buried under effects and only showing up disco-style, and for a nod to the band’s traditional pop-rock roots on “Black Diamonds”.

It would be silly to call this an alt pop album, though The Darcys’ PR may well use the subgenre as a way to makes excuses for a band that wears white pants and leather tassels on stage. This is a pop record that wouldn’t be out of place in a club in 1980, but can also be appreciated in a contemporary context.

Like many labels, Arts & Crafts has a signature style — and not just ironic mustaches. Their approach to music has an unapologetic confidence, no matter how trite or tired the genre may seem. Despite glaring at you from over-sized shades, these men with the rolled-up sleeves on their white blazers demand and earn your respect.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Check Also

The 1975: A Brief Inquiry into Online Relationships

So what do you expect from The 1975? …