The last we heard from Broken Social Scene ringleader, Kevin Drew, as a solo artist was Love vs Porn, a contribution to 2009’s Dark Is the Night compilation. Themes of sensual escapism continue on the first two tracks of the Banff-recorded Darlings, the rather self-explanatory Body Butter and Good Sex. This new run of songs aren’t simply about getting it on, however, with layers beneath the carnal facade pulled back to reveal a greater complexity on what is Drew’s most personal album.
The ‘Broken Social Scene presents…’ tag from his previous solo album has been ditched and Drew’s vocal is now wonderfully exposed without the busy, grandiose surrounds of his former band. There’s considerably less guitar across this collection of mostly mid-tempo tracks, replaced by brittle keys and warm synths that recall the ambience and nostalgia of the self-titled Broken Social Scene debut. The casual vocal delivery and leaner sounds are underpinned by a simmering energy best displayed on the disparaging Bullshit Ballad and the Fiest-guested highlight You In Your Were.
‘Mature’ can often be a codeword for dull, but not in the case of Darlings. It lacks the bombast of Broken Social Scene and that’s not necessarily a bad thing.