Dani Bell and the Tarantist - Wide Eyed (Digital)
With their sophomore record Wide Eyed, Dani Bell and the Tarantist awake from the dreamy pop reveries that fueled their 2015 debut, to contend with a present day that's taken a greater emotional toll. While Dark West lent the intimacy of Bell's vulnerable vocals to romantic whispers, here they're compelled to answer the shifting contexts of an unsettling world, offering turns of disenchantment, wariness, and resilience.
The album opens with a track fittingly titled "The End," a tapestry of sitar-tinged acid rock that ushers the listener into an altered state while Bell dispassionately intones, "I wish that this would end." Subsequent tracks find her bristling with energy, awed and made restless by twisting truths and cultural divisiveness. Throughout, the musical performances echo the clouding uncertainty, with a palette edged by squealing guitars, and distorted radio static. However, propelled by warm, often bouncy vintage bass tones, the compositions ultimately succeed in mining optimism from stark beginnings, offering the sort of blissful release only afforded by music.
Such is the case with the artfully arranged track, Tension. "This was not the plan," the song dolefully begins, "I never saw this coming / I do not understand." The lyrics evoke rain and sleepless nights over weary, almost mechanical music that sighs into a long rest, mid-tune. That gives the piece a moment to dig deep and right itself, returning with an uplifting flourish that finds the same melodies starting to feel upbeat. By time Wide Eyed approaches its finale, the band even shows renewed swagger. Heady retro rocker The Stereo refuses to give in to trolling voices by drowning them out with a wall of defiant guitars. But in closing with its breathless title track, Wide Eyed threatens to slip back into apathy, telling itself, "It’s too late for dreams… it's too late to try," before catching itself in time to offer one final moment of hope.