When Darkstar broke cover earlier in 2020 with the single ‘Wolf’ fans of the group wondered if the wait for a follow-up to 2015’s Foam Island LP might soon be over. Now, those suspicions have been confirmed - Civic Jams, Darkstar’s first studio album for half a decade, is upon us.
‘Wolf’ set the tone well for the rest of Civic Jams. The track’s combination of stop-start electronic grooves, frail and beautiful synths and cooing vocals are reminiscent of Cold Spring Fault Less Youth-era Mount Kimbie, and the placing of ‘Wolf’ at the centre of this record allows its influence to radiate out across the eight other tunes here.
Civic Jams is a brooding affair full of low-lit textures and quietly forceful songs. Vocals are hung at the edge of the mixes, a choice which makes them feel at once intimate and cryptic in a manner that is not dissimilar to the singing on Caribou albums. This feeling is only heightened by the nocturnal production Darkstar apply to the drums and synthesisers across Civic Jams - in the hands of other artists a cut like ‘Jam’ could be transformed into a peak-time banger, but the tender treatment Darkstar afford it imbue it with the poignancy of Jai Paul.
Darkstar’s long-awaited return is upon us - and in Civic Jams they have created a record of gorgeous aquatic nightsongs.