The greatest irony in the history of alternative rock is how redundant the term became as the bands who brought it out of the shadows won immense commercial success. Thirty years after alt-rock went FM, balancing the unique edge of indie aesthetics with pop sensibilities has never been harder – and more popular – than it is today, and were it not for dedicated underground players like Darro, we might not have anyone setting an appropriate standard for the genre contemporarily. His new single, “Runs on Guilt,” feels like a charged-up version of a They Might Be Giants track from the old school in some ways, while in others demonstrating a future for alternative rockers we need to be keeping our sights on.
First off, the arrangement here is surprisingly meticulous, putting to shame a lot of the streamlined pop-punk enthusiasm we’ve been hearing a lot of in the mainstream this year. As a lot of rappers and pop singers have started to experiment with harder, rock-centric influences in 2021, there’s been a grand marginalization of detail when it comes to output, but I don’t see this becoming an issue for Darro. “Runs on Guilt” is made off of intricacy, and best of all, it plays as smoothly as anything less technical would.
The focused attack that Darro gives us behind the mic is really something, and it’s encouraging that he’s as willing to put all of his heart into the vocal as he is in this performance. He’s not trying to hide behind a huge riff or even a decadent solo; the hook is easy for him to straddle, and with a voice like his, he never hesitates to go after it as hard as he can, especially given the nudging the percussion is giving him from the backdrop.
These guitar parts have a sweet crunch, which is yet another element I’ve been struggling to find in a lot of pop-rock this year, but it’s controlled to such a degree as to keep the very notion of overindulgence off the table here. Excess just isn’t something that Darro has to employ to make a big statement with his music, and if you don’t pick up on the intensity that his efficient attitude towards songwriting has granted his music thus far in “Runs on Guilt,” you’ll probably be the first among those who have gotten into it in the past month.
Mathy melodies and crisp vocals from a credible young source await anyone who picks up a copy of “Runs on Guilt” this late summer, and depending on what he decides to do with his career next, I think this track is giving us a general outlook as to what caliber of content we should expect to see out of Darro’s camp in the future. He’s got a lot of options considering the versatility he’s got in this single and music video alone, but if I were in his shoes, I would think strongly about sticking with the present path I’m on as an artist and performer.
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