The Shiny Darks - Stab at Love (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

The Shiny Darks

Stab at Love (2011)


The Shiny Darks (whatever that might mean/be) are a trio from Houston, Texas, intent on rocking and rolling with the best of them. This EP is their second release and much is made within their biography of the involvement of Sylvia Massey and Cameron McKenzie as producers. To be honest, this means absolutely nothing to me as I have no idea who they are (it's not like they're a Mr. Brett or someone a bit more linked to the world of punk), but what is evident is that the job they have done is pretty spot-on, albeit in quite a clinical sounding way for a genre that is more often noted for being a bit rough 'round the edges.

Putting that aside, everything here sounds pretty good: The guitars sound crunchy and in your face and the drums hammer along with a crisp attack whilst the bass rumbles deliberately and effectively through all four songs. Even a kiddie xylophone (or whatever plinky plonky instrument it is) in the title track doesn't sound out of place, and the vocals seem to have the perfect balance without taking over or being lost in the mix.

What does this all produce? The Shiny Darks play punk-tinged rock'n'roll, with no gimmicks–just a straight-up formula that has an immediate, positive quality to it. Opening with "Stab at Love", the vocals of Paul Mendez initially come across like Jack Terricoth of the World/Inferno Friendship Society, and although that's where the similarities soon end, there is no doubting that this, like the WIFS, has an element of raucousness to it that I find invigorating.

Followed by "I Wanna Be a Kennedy", the rock'n'roll punch delivered by the threesome is repeated with another impressive song. "Photographs" is probably the weakest track out of the four on this EP, but still a lot better than some other bands I have listened to in recent times. Perhaps that's not the best way to consider a song/album/band, but one such band blustered its way through an album and didn't come close to achieving anything remotely on par with this track.

Finally comes "Holiday", which is more a return to form for the Shiny Darks in terms of keeping up with the first half of this EP and provides a decent bookend for tracks two and three.

Not a bad second release from the band, one that is enjoyable and worth seeking out if you have a penchant for clean-cut rock'n'roll.