Little Dark Age has that uneasy sounding noise bubbling underneath that leaves the listener unsure whether they’re interested by the spacey and conceptual sound, or simply uncomfortable. The album is relaxed but somehow altogether challenging.
The start of the album is the musical equivalent of an acid trip in ‘She Works Out Too Much’. The electronic, Japanese introduction is reminiscent of times spent playing Sonic the Hedgehog and, whilst nostalgic, it remains largely a miss.
Tracks like ‘James’ and ‘Days That Got Away’ have that dazed summer day feeling that should be enjoyable, but seemingly lend themselves to being backing music. ‘Me and Michael’ sounds distant and dreamy, but again nothing in the song suggests itself to be a marvel. Title track ‘Little Dark Age’ does, however, possess more traction. In shedding the characteristic warmth of the album, the dark and brooding hooks edge on catchy.
The androgyny of ‘One Thing Left to Try’ is interesting but, again, confused to the point of estrangement. ‘TSLAMP’ (“time spend looking at my phone”) is intriguing and clever, with the uneasiness of the album indeed lending itself to the nature of the song that spends time dealing with the issues of technology in modern relationships. Something of a political comment helps the album recommend itself as worthy of a listen.
Although Little Dark Age is, in some ways, an appreciated departure from the alienating sound of their previous albums, both of which border on “too cool” with the punch, burst and addictive melody that marked songs like ‘Kids’ and ‘Time to Pretend’ missing. Will they get this back? I’m not so sure.