Alive As You Are

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Generally favorable reviews - based on 19 Critics What's this?

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  • Summary: Recorded at San Francisco's legendary Hyde Street Studios, this Los Angeles quintet's third album continues to cross genres with punk-infused psychedelic jams.
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Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 9 out of 19
  2. Negative: 0 out of 19
  1. At times warmly sunny and loose and at other times coolly subdued, Alive As You Are is undeniably personal, with a depth lacking in the group's previous reverb-soaked fuzz anthems.
  2. While fans of Darker My Love's earlier albums may be a bit put off by this sudden sea change, Alive as You Are marks a pleasant sonic shift for the band, offering anyone willing to listen a love letter to San Francisco's psych-pop past and the sounds of the paisley underground.
  3. This is an album to be held close to your heart and revered as psych-pop scripture.
  4. On their third full-length album, Alive As You Are, the members of Darker My Love drop the whole neo-shoegaze, Jesus And Mary Chain worship of their first two albums and instead engage in a sampling of different '60s sounds.
  5. Overall, Alive As You Are's sea change is perhaps just a little too severe to fully engage with in one sitting, and despite the band's insistence this record represents a significant step forward, its retrogressive veneer casts something of a bewildering shadow.
  6. Familiarity is both Alive As You Are's strength and its main failing, but there are enough acid-soaked pop hooks of their own to last the summer.
  7. Mojo
    Where 2008's 2 was frazzled and powerful, this one feels soporific, moderate, even a little slight. [Sep 2010 p.94]

See all 19 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 2 out of 2
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 2
  3. Negative: 0 out of 2
  1. Sep 26, 2010
    You wouldn't want your favorite movie director to make the same movie next, milking the "franchise". Neither should you expect a band withYou wouldn't want your favorite movie director to make the same movie next, milking the "franchise". Neither should you expect a band with such total and diverse talent across the board to extend "2" to meet yours or my craving for more phuzz and psych. Darn it. But as it turns out Alive As You Are is the Exile on Main Street of DML. Or at least the Moby Grape 69. The album where the band gets to do what it does best, stripped to the essence, with the results of lots of touring on display. This band is tight, the vocals aren't hidden and the cover of noise reigned in to show off the impressive drumming and keyboards the classic West Coast guitars and yes the still fuzzing bass. The unique harmonies are now spread to three voices although you won't notice unless you watch them on KCRW. Crank it up on the CD of the AAA (all analogue) recording at famous Hyde Park and marvel at a great vinyl album coming from your CD player. Better buy the vinyl and marvel at how albums are supposed to sound with all the glorious air showing off the ambience, air and the subtle touches of steel guitar, Maria Taylor, oboe and the five keyboards at once Pigpen to "third guitar" clavinet sound that rounds out the forefront of a Rock n Roll lineage from Dylan to Beau Brummels to a new place where all 60 years of R&R merge to form something new. And delightful. Arrangements are the differentiator for Darker My Love and they are allowed to form concise songs. Not teenage symphonies to God, but Brian Wilson would have been happy to have some of these songs for Friends, Sunflower or 20/20. Sal Valentino should have had their vocals to match, and Band of Horses is right to invite them along where they can keep an eye on them.

    If you go watch the KCRW Morning Becomes Eclectic Darker My Love show from Sept 15, 2010, you'll hear where they may head next from two new songs toward the end. "The Rain Down South" is particularly exciting. A smash hit sure shot, for top 40 Radio. Circa 1967. Or maybe in a perfect world 2011.
    That they are Touring with Band of Horses and Delta Spirit should give some indication of the change of direction this year.
  2. Aug 26, 2010
    While it may seem slight, coming in at only 35 minutes, the newest addition to the DML catalog is uniquely different. It doesn't have theWhile it may seem slight, coming in at only 35 minutes, the newest addition to the DML catalog is uniquely different. It doesn't have the acid-rock freak outs you'd find on their two prior albums, in fact they delve into the 70's quite a bit more with plenty of allusions to Jerry Garcia's vocal and guitar tones, George Harrison's mellower stuff and some dylan-esqe vocals. It may not better than "2", but it's immaculate beauty, appropriately short ballads and even funky jug band like tunes keep me listening to it nearly every day. I'd recommend it to anyone who digs acid-folk-rock of the California variety. Expand