The Darling Suns proudly present their first debut album Midnight Feelings, released on 3rd of August. This band was formed back in 2017 and for some time focused only on playing local concerts in the Chicago area. The culmination of this period was the release of self-titled EP in 2018. The next singles Loving You and Raspberry Homecoming were to present band’s capabilities, celebrating the upcoming LP.
Midnight Feelings, as the name implies, was conceptually focused on all thoughts that occur in our heads right before we fall into the arms of Morpheus. The album’s main lyrical theme is “love, loss, heartbreak, and the optimism of romance”, as mentioned by the band members themselves.
And so, Call From The Outside with (“It’s getting harder to get my feelings through/When it feels like our candle’s burned out”), shows the problem of broken communication in a relationship, when issues begin to accumulate. Growing is a reminiscence about wasted opportunities in life, where the singer seems to catch himself daydreaming what-ifs a bit too much(“For a minute I closed my eyes and saw all of the things that could have been), while simultaneously beginning to understand that time waits for no one. It seems to be quite morbidly presented by the lines (“The doorbell rang, and I woke from a trance to a delivery man/He was holding a big brown box, I could’ve sworn it was my death bed.”) Similar and senseless concept of chasing of youth was also shown in the song like Corner Stone (“Thought the devil had died. Because I’m numb inside. But I’m chasing youth. And I’m wasting time”)
It seems that on their debut album The Darling Suns are lyrically oscillating around the feelings of melancholy and losing something essential from the past, like dreams, love which turned out to be more complicated than we assumed, or courage to make bold decisions until the door is still open. It appears to be best illustrated by the outro song and words: (“Small fish in a big pond/Not much food left/Big car in a small garage/And whatever the news said/And it’s easy to believe/In the stars at night/Like a cold winters breeze/Or a hard days night”)
As for the musical layer, Midnight Feelings is an indie folk-rock project, emphasizing heavily strings parts in most of the songs. The title track is a folk intro, and takes on slightly more predatory overtones as it unfolds, which given the overall gloomy lyrics on the album seems appropriate. To contrast this, we are then greeted by the delicate acoustic beginnings of the single Loving You, released in June, which gradually transforms into a classic indie folk jolly & radio-friendly tune, which may resemble acts such as The Luminers. The aforementioned Call From the Outside presents the introduction of subtle retro synthesizer parts that suited this type of ballad very well and were a pleasant diversion.
Growing isfocused only on the acoustic concept; however, taking into account probably the best lyrics on the album, it seems like it was the best choice. After all, not every song needs multiple add-ons to show-off; sometimes the simplest concepts are the best. In Raspberry Homecoming we’ll find an entertaining conversation between verses where the whimsical bass dominates, and the radio-friendly string parts from choruses. Corner Strings is the return of synthesizers as the main axis. The song is also an excellent reference to the ’80s, delightful, almost rock’n’roll manifesto, appearing via guitar solos and licks in refrains. Outro Move Along instrumentally refers to the eponymous intro. The band treated this song as summarizing coda, delivering anything from dreamy bells gently vibrating in the background, up until the noisy climax, and back again to the solo acoustic guitar, ending the very first album by The Darling Suns.
The part that was vexing on this debut LP was the quality of production. We are more than sure that if The Darling Suns decided to re-master the album, songs like Loving You or Corner Strings would be a lot more satisfying to listen. These are songs that without a doubt, could successfully land on the radio or editorial playlists, as they do not lack quality in terms of the craft itself. Unfortunately, the recording process of making an album is just as crucial as what we will record. So listening to the Midnight Feelings album, you could get the impression that you are at a live gig of a good local band, not as if you were listening to a well-refined project of the band that wants to fight for fans with the best in the genre. More polished recording process would be able to fill in the blanks.
Not diminishing the efforts and heart put into the making of this album though – Midnight Feelings is a very decent indie folk LP, that might be slightly rough around the production edges, or sometimes a bit monotonous regarding the lyrics. In the end though, it would be a lie to deny that the debut album by The Darling Suns isn’t good. Midnight Feelings presents first and foremost maturity in writing songs, showing quality folk-rock craftsmanship in the process.