Darkstar – Foam Island

Somebody bought this album back around 2015 and wasn’t very pleased with it as I found it in a used records bin still in its shrink wrap for £7.00. As it was released by Warp records and I was sure I’d heard some of their tracks somewhere in the past and don’t remember hating them, I bought it. Pretty glad I did as I really do like it. I’m very fond of spoken word interludes in music, the sort of thing Public Service Broadcasting do for instance, and this has an element of that although more between tracks rather than as an integral part of them, they have a proper sense of not being scripted though, which matters. There’s also some words from former British PM David Cameron, the man so self absobed in his own belief of his invincibility that he never considered that the referendum could possibly not go the way he expected, and when it did, he ran away and left everybody else to deal with it.

Darkstar are James Young and Aiden Whalley (there was a third member at one point, James Buttery) who began making music together in London around 2007 and originally self released their records. ‘Foam Island is their third studio album which was released on 25 September (UK) and 2 October (ROW) via Warp Records. The album’s main themes were informed by social change in the UK and in particular how this is affecting the youth of today post UK Conservative Party re-election. Much of the spoken word included on the album is as a result of the duo travelling to Huddersfield in order to talk to and capture the thoughts and aspirations of the Northern youth of England.

Tracklist
A1 Basic Things
A2 Inherent In The Fibre
A3 Stoke The Fire
A4 Cuts
A5 Go Natural
A6 A Different Kind Of Struggle
A7 Pin Secure
B1 Through The Motions
B2 Tilly’s Theme
B3 Foam Island
B4 Javan’s Call
B5 Days Burn Blue

For me it was a good find as it is another of those bands that I’ve seen or heard a small amount of but never really investigated, now there are a few more albums out there that I can discover and if there’s one thing I really like, it’s finding new things to listen to. There’s an interesting summation to the album review in Crack magazine, which I think is probabaly true:

Foam Island is not the zeitgeist-defining masterpiece that something as ambitious and politically engaged as this could have been. There are moments when it seems to lose focus; minutes that pass without note. But Darkstar sound comfortable with themselves, and their uneasy equilibrium. You won’t hear another album like it this year, and that alone is a reason to grimly raise a glass and be thankful for a band with a disdain for smiling sweetly, and who remain on the outside looking in.

It’s probabaly fair enough, but sometimes it is just a question of whether you like something or not, and I like it.