EP Review: Darlingside – Look Up & Fly Away

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After a stunning debut album, indie folk troupe Darlingside have returned with a new EP, Look Up & Fly Away, that certifies their mastery of gorgeous folk harmonies and endearing songwriting.

The EP starts strong right out the gate with the elegiac “Rodeo”. There’s an incredible warmth in the song, and the detailed lyrics manage to put you right in the moment, creating a sense of present nostalgia that’s hard to describe yet incredible effective. Lines like “The clerk is a man behind glass, behind his eyes is the past” conjure dreamlike images that are enhanced by the elegant harmonies, soft horns and lightly finger picked acoustic guitars.

“Bright as the Day” is pure nostalgia, as the singer recount his youthful days “Out in the water with weeds in our air” over sunny accordion, mournful fiddle and acoustic guitars.  The combination of this and “Rodeo” create a melancholy tone that the group quickly switches up with the buoyant title track. A self-empowerment hymn, with lyrics about “Sunny skies” and “fighting for myself”, the track has a cheeriness to it that lifts the mood of the album. While the group hits a note that’s slightly too high and off-putting on the chorus, they quickly come down and smooth things out for the remainder of the track, leading to an energetic denouement, filled with frantic loops and blips.

The pace slows down again with the orchestrated, layered “Heart Again”, which vacillates between solo vocals and heavenly harmonies. The richness of the music on the chorus creates some of the strongest dynamics on the album. Things change up again with “Paradise Bay”, which opens nearly as an acappella song, with the crisp and clear vocals sounding like a cross between CSNY and Fleet Foxes. The group takes the song in unexpected melodic directions, and with the help of some peaceful mandolin, the track really stands out.

The “Untitled” closer is a simple instrumental that closes out what is on the whole an extremely strong collection of songs, and will be a great holdover until Darlingside‘s next full length album comes. Listen to the EP below, or on your preferred streaming service.

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