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“Darkstar” by Ready, Steady, Die!

Melody-focused ambient pop music has always been among my favorite strains of alternative music, and although I would stop short of calling Ready, Steady, Die! an experimental band per se, they owe something to the chamber-inspired sounds of the old guard in indie music. In their new single and music video “Darkstar,” they blend this heady influence with a crushing lyrical sting that I definitely wouldn’t expect out of such a surreal band, and where their contemporaries have been chasing a stripped-down aesthetic in recent years, this group asserts themselves as loves of lusty harmonies and powerhouse equalization in their most recent studio work.  

There’s so much to love about the way this track is mixed, but without looking at it from the bottom up, you’re not appreciating what a stacked arrangement the band is playing out here. Rather than emitting a lot of presence from one instrumental component over another, there’s a collective strength to this piece as a whole that is both magnetizing and surprisingly well-compressed, all things considered. It’s like we’re listening to a song being performed from beneath a blanket, its desperate pleas for air ignored by the audience in some wild, forced exhibition of sonic sadism. Provocative simply isn’t doing a single like this justice – especially when you look at what it’s up against on college radio right now. 

The music video for “Darkstar” is vibrantly textured and yet barebones in comparison to a lot of the other indie videos I’ve reviewed in the last few months, but I think its power ironically comes from the lack of frills that it contains. In making the band the greatest element of chaos in the video, there’s never a moment in which their play doesn’t take center stage, and that simply isn’t something I’ve been able to say about a lot of releases in 2022 period. I don’t want to call them outright puritans, but in this regard, Ready, Steady, Die! clearly prefer the conservative mantle in producing original content to anything obnoxiously avant-garde; they’ve got too much of a story to tell here.  

A suffocating blend of influences that span from the likes of ambient to melodic noise music and post-punk, Ready, Steady, Die!’s sound is still coming into focus here, but I think it’s yielding some of the most exciting muted eruptions of the season in “Darkstar.” This is a single that was made for those of us who want a little extra beyond a simple beat, and while that might sound like too much to ask for among certain acts, this isn’t true of Ready, Steady, Die!  

Mindy McCall



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