Darkstar – “Through the Motions” (audio) (Singles Going Steady)

If you're Darkstar, "pleasant" isn't the word you want describing your output

Chris Gerard: British synthpop duo Darkstar will release their third album, Foam Island, on September 25. This preview is glitchy computer pop that has some interesting textures and a lurching rhythm, but it doesn’t quite gel as a piece of music. It’s got that “sad computer” vibe that’s already been perfected by others, and there’s not much in the way of melody. The whole thing is kinda monotonous. It’s a surprising choice to lead a new album — “Through the Motions” is an apt title. Perhaps it should have been a b-side instead. [4/10]

Will Rivitz: I feel bad comparing everything Darkstar does to “Aidy’s Girl Is a Computer,” since a) I’d bet good money that nothing they’ll ever make will come anywhere close to that tune’s perfection and b) they’re allowed to do whatever the hell they want without having to look six years behind themselves at every turn. That said, I’m OK comparing this one to that track because they’re two examples of how to capture the imperfect perfections of a computer, one good, one not so much. “Aidy’s” was so great because of how well it captured that whole Hyperdub ethos at the time of its release — melancholy, sweet, and utterly void in the best way possible. “Through the Motions”, on the other hand, just kind of lays there, feeding an uninspired indie schlock-rock bit through the tubes of some analog-sounding black hole of vibrancy, pumping out a pleasant but dull selection of vocal snatches and glitched drum snippets. And, if you’re Darkstar, “pleasant” isn’t the word you want describing your output. [5/10]

John Garratt: A nice, creative buildup is a good way for a listener to take notice. A symmetrical, predictable buildup can be a complete turn-off in a world overrun with recording software. Darkstar map out their approach on “Through the Motions” like they were a motivational speaker asked to address a banquet hall full of corporate suits while adhering to a strict time slot. Through the motions, indeed. [5/10]

Dustin Ragucos: Vocals are stretched and contorting all over this piece. The condensed waves of wailing does add something to the daily diet of sound. Related to this discussion of food is the odd addition of “egg rolls” to the lyrics. The spiral staircase rhythm the song takes in its last quarter does not do much in the way of appealing to listeners, but it’s a novel touch. It’s hard to expect something else from a song called “Through the Motions”. It would’ve been nice to feel the existential crises that can take over. Constrained within its subject of going through a mechanical life, the song could’ve used some extreme contortions in the form of breaking some bones and letting experimentation take hold. [5/10]

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