Review | Darlingside - Pilot Machines

[L]ocal band Darlingside released their first full-length album, Pilot Machines, this past summer and have been on the road pretty much nonstop, touring up and down the east coast this year. It has been two years since their debut, self-titled EP put them on the Massachusetts indie-rock map and their latest offering shows that the boys have become a much more tight-knit group. It is hard to simply call Darlingside an indie-band, or folk rock band, as the music in Pilot Machines transcends normal music reviewer label language. Sure they have fantastic harmonies, beautiful strings, and showcase crazy mandolin playing skills on almost every track, but they manage to bring a unique sound to the familiar style.

The first track “Still” seems to acknowledge the musical hiatus with the lyrics “What’s that sound/It’s awful quite/But I know that sound/Maybe we’ve still got it/Still, we got it still.” It’s a great song, and the perfect way to announce that they do indeed still have it. Strings and percussion kick off the second track “The Woods,” which showcases a fast-paced, and very well played, violin behind the guitar and vocals.

A standout track on Pilot Machines comes halfway through the album. “Blow the House Down” highlights the skill the five-piece band has in arranging melodies and instruments to create the album’s perfect “pop” song. I put pop in quotes  because I am doing my best as a music writer to not categorize a band that has done a great job on their debut album to not get locked down to any particular style. Every song on the album, whether it is the quietly haunting “When Fortune Comes,” or the drum heavy, upbeat song about being hell-bound titled “Terrible Things,” shifts when least expected… just as you think you have figured them out.

Darlingside is a band of 5 singer-songwriters, each with a particular talent, working together to create every song. There is no lead player, or band front man, in this group and that is what makes the music in Pilot Machines work so well. As the saying goes when everyone contributes, we all benefit.

Be sure to check them out when they play a hometown show in Cambridge at Club Passim with Portland, ME band Tricky Britches, on Tuesday, November 13th.