Burlington's Dark Park straddle the line between two seemingly disparate genres: jam-rock and indie-pop. Like a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup, this combination of flavors is sweeter than you might expect. The band's self-titled debut might not win over hipper-than-thou scenesters, but it's a nice alternative to the jam-by-numbers acts so prevalent in the Green Mountains.
Vocalist, guitarist and chief songwriter Larry Flynn cut his teeth as a member of Liquid Dead and Blues for Breakfast. Backed by a pick-up band including ex-Cake drummer Todd Roper, Flynn exchanges open-ended noodling in favor of a more streamlined sound.
The disc kicks off with "Husk," a low-key number with a minor-key lilt and breathy atmospherics. Bolstered by Jon Erikson's rippling bass lines, Flynn serves up Dylan-esque prose and a handful of stark guitar lines. "Trace the tracks of a raven hair / tell yourself that you didn't care, but sing it like you mean it," he croons softly.
"Oily Anna" has a decidedly hippie bent. Its stock chord progression and uninspired melody don't win any points for originality. In fact, only the strangely imagistic lyrics save it from terminal redundancy. "Anna sleeps, she's a tea that needs to steep," Flynn sings. "A spoon-fed streetlight shines on Oily Anna." Are those supposed to be compliments?
A Stonesy shuffle informs "Telepathy," with acoustic slide guitar and barroom piano dancing around Flynn's lazy vocals. "Roost" is a slow-motion acoustic ballad flecked with analog keyboard blips and slight percussion. This curious blend of musical textures actually works quite well.
"Reasons" features a skeletal breakbeat and haunting organ. Here, Flynn stretches his oddly skittish voice to its upper registers. "Now the night is savage / The birds don't speak / Under a mangrove tree, I thought just to break down and weep," he sings over moody carnival funk.
The cyclical acoustic guitar figure in "Misgivings" sounds like indie-darlings The Shins recast as tie-dyed buskers. The song switches gears in the middle section, with trip-hop rhythms sharing the stage with washed-out keys and snaky bass.
Overall, the album is like a day in the, well, you know. Hear Dark Park's shady groove-pop on Saturday, May 20, at Nectar's.