The Connells – Darker Days

What I Think of When I Think of This Artist

Ok, so I don’t know what happened with my alphabetization, but these albums were completely misfiled, having been placed after Sam Cooke and Cornershop. Embarrassing. Anyway, I don’t love the Connells. They are okay. I, of course, like it when siblings are in bands together, as here with Mike and David Connell. I do not think it’s cool that they named their band the Connells, particularly given that one Connell does nothing but play his instrument – no singing, no songwriting, nothing. That’s lazy and uninspired.

What I Think of This Album

I am not entirely sure why I still have this album. It’s far from the best Connells album – it’s an album of potential more than anything else, perhaps appropriate for a debut. I find Doug MacMillan’s voice distracting on this release – it’s almost as if they need to move the songs to a different key, as his baritone sounds ridiculous. Every song here is a different ominous shade of jangly pop.

I appreciate the broadside against Ronald Reagan in “Hats Off” but the lyrics are childishly simplistic and strident. “Seven” has a mostly enjoyable vocal melody. The title track is one of the stronger songs the band offers up, with a winning melody, a structure that moves things forward, and some helpful backing vocals. Again, there is a nugget of a better song within “Much Easier,” though I appreciate the brighter sound and the keyboard as welcome adjustments.

Guitarist George Huntley wrote “1934,” which also benefits from chorused vocals and is another highlight. The keyboards save “Brighter Worlds,” though “save” may be overselling things. And “Dial It” employs a chorused bass that I fully approve of, making this a pretty cool instrumental. There are elements to many, if not most, of these songs that I enjoy. Again, this album hinted at the possibility of better things. The question of why I still own it remains.

Don Dixon (R.E.M., Marshall Crenshaw) was among the four producers who worked on this.

The Best Thing About This Album

“Darker Days,” by a slim ray of sunshine.

Release Date

1985

The Cover Art

But for the painting and the cap, this could almost be a Joy Division album cover. And what ruins it for me is in fact the painting and the cap (and that postcard or whatever).

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