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ATP! Album Review: Slingshot Dakota - Dark Hearts

Already established for their honesty, the duo of Slingshot Dakota have gone deeper and more sentimental than many songwriters are willing to go on their newest album. Self-described as much darker than their last release "Their Dreams are Dead, but Ours is the Golden Ghost", "Dark Hearts" has a few tracks tapped straight from chest, bruised from tragic circumstances the two have apparently been through in recent years. That being said, quick opener 'Intro' shows singer Carly Comando hasn’t lost all of her innocence quite yet. Though she wails with her piano as if in mourning, 'May Day' jumps in with bells and a persevering drumbeat: rambunctious and a bit like Karen O’s score for "Where The Wild Things Are", yet endlessly sad. It isn’t until 'Disaster' that "Dark Hearts" really gives its first nod at the complete darkness the album title suggests. The apathetic two-step is a brief acceptance of bad karma until the peculiar 'Rasta Bacca' steps in with its electronica indie pop. Though a bit hectic, it’s mellowed-down by Comando’s vocals and sobered-up by its message of taking full advantage of life.

The meloncholia creeps back in with 'Never Hear', channeling vintage Death Cab and their cheerful pessimism of a failed relationship. 'Starting Over' keeps the contrast between the duo in high relief as Comando sings about facing your age. Drummer Tom Patterson is tactful with his rhythms, resting and re-entering with a snare, eventually building up to a long-winded session of drums and keys that puzzle together perfectly. Slingshot Dakota’s minimalistic songwriting is upfront on the seasonal depressive track 'Light' and its follower 'Living/Dreaming', but an unexpected acoustic guitar takes lead for 'Cassette'. As one of the most earnest tracks on the album, the song stands out as an after-the-fact love letter and a reminder that breakups don’t need to come with hate, a message inscribed in Comando’s repetition of “It doesn’t really matter that much to me / because what you want for yourself isn’t what I want for me / so it doesn’t really matter that much / except when I think about your broken heart.”

'Words' follows up with a bit of on-point, aggressive industrial percussion, though as a whole the track is tucked away and outshined by the rest of the album. 'Good Year' finishes the record off just how it started, with a cinematic piano ballad and a re-evaluation of what makes for a "good year": it’s less about constant happiness, and more about just getting by. A spread of a background chorus turns the song into a candlelight vigil to say goodbye and we’re met with lyrics “How can we keep living when our loved ones die? / It just keeps getting harder.”

It’s an ender without question as to how the last few years have been since we last heard Slingshot Dakota. The band were due for a new record whose best songs are the ones that make you forget they don’t have a guitarist. But with "Dark Hearts", you get the feeling this was written more to stay sane, heal and relate than to sell a few more records, and that’s the honesty you need from a musician.

4/5

Carolyn Vallejo

"Dark Hearts" is out on November 6th through Topshelf Records.