The Theory of Mind EP is a musical confessional created with an abundance of experimentation, intellect and rhythmic influences.
Darling James, an indie-pop group from Australia, were founded by James O’Brien, who was first welcomed into the Australian music scene with indie band, The Boat People.
O’Brien’s musical background and Darling James’ capability to piece together a sound recognizable only as their own, has meant their debut EP is something to be very proud of.
The demand for experimentation is one of the strongest assets on this EP. Darling James have an ability to create a smooth transition of different genres and influences so well into every track. You never quite know what to expect on this EP and that is why it works so well.
Ultimatum Talk is the debut single, and the first song on the EP. The track focuses on having to result to the last-resort, having to have “the talk”, the one you know you’ve been avoiding but you have no choice but to get it over and done with. As “the talk” progresses, so does the melody, in fact, it erupts, and the genres make a swift change. Upon my first listen, I was truly amazed at how smoothly the band can make the transition from an upbeat ukulele to an eruption of drums and other rock-infused instrumentals. This song climaxes in between the transition and somehow the band have mastered this genre shift very well. The hypnotic vocals drive the transition and you’re lost in a dizzy world of confusion and amazement. To some, you’d think that a band would never get away with having so many different genres and influences in one song. But Darling James do, and they do it well.
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The structure of Indonesian Cigarette is brilliant, there’s an arrangement of dynamic instrumentation with harmonizing vocals and lyrics that emanate nostalgia and lust. Not only do the rock influences fall heavy throughout this track, but there is also an abundance of synth-pop imprints, further displaying this experimental force throughout the EP. Indonesian Cigarette is not as raw and emotional as the other tracks on the EP, but maybe this diary-like EP isn’t all doom and gloom.
The Itch is perhaps something that the band are writing about from their own experience, but girls, parties and drinking seem to be the focus of the song. And aside from the fact that The Itch discusses issues that every mainstream pop song seems to focus on, the indie-influences, combined with drowsy vocals that sit parallel to the echoed percussions, this song creates something new and original. The singing style fluctuates throughout the song, from repetitive harmonizing to silvery vocals, it is another example of how Darling James have successfully experimented with their sound throughout the EP.
When indie and jazz influences come together you get Ache and Bend, a track that gives this EP its intimate and exposing status. The raw emotion is drawn from the disillusionment in the lyrics, “I wanna run until I can’t stand up. I wanna know what’s mine”, as a listener you share this melancholy, you’re lost and can’t quite figure out what to think. This feeling of seclusion then halts when the misery is interrupted by an explosive instrumental of mesmerizing saxophones. The saxophones then dull and the track then slips back into the comedown, and you feel isolated again.
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If the thumping synths at the start of God’s Graffiti doesn’t give you an impression of what to expect in this song then I don’t know what will. It’s all about energy and feeling motivated to better yourself. The progressive nature of God’s Graffiti is what this EP is all about, the track explores music experimentation and finding that Darling James sound. God’s Graffiti is about feeling lost but empowered, misplaced but inspired. The lyrics “How do you clean up God’s graffiti, who do you even call? Cause I know I’ve got no plan” provokes alienation and a lack of spirit. The upbeat melody which carries the song, leads to an impressive guitar riff, turned solo, towards the end of the track, signifying a kind of liberation from the woes of the world.
How Far Will You Go? happens to be one of the best tracks on the EP, it resonates with the try-hards, the fakes and the contrived. How Far Will You Go? addresses the issues deriving from the need to break away from your social class by trying so hard that you lose all authenticity and substance. With lyrics like, “snuck into a private party, I don’t think they liked me”, Darling James reiterates a strive for sophistication, and even the exhaustion caused by this desire. The song resembles the fact that you have given up on trying so hard to be what is expected of you. The track states, “You’ve lived out the cliché and now you’re just tired” and “You try so hard to be middle class”, and when it is addressed to you, as a listener, you can’t help but feel defeated and lost. The melancholy is further influenced by the soft but dejected vocals that are supported by a harmonious mix of guitars and percussion.