Marvelous Darlings - Single Life (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

Marvelous Darlings

Single Life (2011)

Deranged Records

Ben Cook is truly a one man rock n’ roll machine. Involved with such bands as Fucked Up, No Warning and his most recent projects, the decidedly mellower Yacht Club and Young Guv, Cook has demonstrated not only a certain unique musical dexterity, but also a profound ability to kick ass no matter what style he’s playing. One of the better projects from his rich musical resume is the Marvelous Darlings. Single Life, a collection of the band’s various singles released after 2007 until their eventual hiatus in 2012, displays Cook and company putting on a poppy punk rock clinic.

Steeped in the influence of power pop punk, '50s rock n’ roll, and Replacements-like raucousness, the Marvelous Darlings sound like a band at the top of their game throughout Single Life. Cook’s voice is one of the most striking elements of their sound; a silky croon one song, then a throaty yet melodic yell the next, he possesses the voice and presence of a natural frontman. What also separates the Darlings from the rest of the pack is their musicianship. Each member of the band contributes powerful, dynamic performances, giving their relatively simple pop formula a complexity that most bands are unable to pull off.

Opening the collection is “I Don’t Wanna Go To the Party,” a punky burst of power pop that also serves as one of their very best songs. Its energy and balls-to-the-wall attitude are infectious. “Teenage Targets” turns the Replacements influence up a few notches in its delivery of mood and hook, while “I’ll Stand By Her” is a fantastic blend of punk and '80s power pop. Some of the wilder offerings include “I Hate Rock n’ Roll," “Careerist,” and “I Want My Brand,” showing off a more energetic brand of punk rock. The latter half of Single Life is comprised of the singles’ b-sides; while in general these songs aren’t quite as strong as those on the first half, they still are worth many a listen.

A few years after the declaration of their hiatus, I can’t help but feel sad that this might spell the end of the Marvelous Darlings. But if the legacy they leave behind is Single Life, they will certainly be remembered as something great.