Various Artists – Little Darla Has a Treat for You, Vol. 21

Various Artists
Little Darla Has a Treat for You, Vol. 21

Little Darla Has a Treat for You Vol. 21, released by the Darla Records label, is crammed full with some “fresh sounds from around the globe.” Most compilations promising sounds from around the globe end up only including tracks from US bands and their UK counterparts. Darla has taken the literal approach and included songs from bands located in Denmark (Manual), Mexico (Terrestre, Fax) and Argentina (Entre Rios), as well as bands from the states, Canada, and United Kingdom.

Printed Circuit, Sweet Trip, and F.S. Blumm all seem to be operating in a traditional pop realm, with sweetly sung melodies, tunes a little off-kilter at times, and styles vaguely reminiscent of the Pet Shop Boys (Printed Circuit) and just about anything on Matinee Recordings (Sweet Trip). Auburn Lull, a Michigan-based band, contributes “Steady Lights,” a shoegazeresque number and one that hints at influences such as Dean Wareham and Spiritualized. Terrestre, Lineland, Randomnumber, and I am Robot and Proud are all electronic-pop outfits, with a similar feel to that of the Postal Service and Dntel with tons of glitch-pop effects thrown in for good measure. Fax, Flowchart, and Manual are the wierdos of the bunch; the three bands create ambient electronic noise that sounds like it could have been created on another planet (or Iceland, home of Bjork and Sigur Ros).

Alsace, Pale Horse and Rider, and The Music Lovers are a little less “out there,” mixing Air, alt-country, and Elton John. Paul Haig’s “Ghost Rider” is a ghoulish (ha) rockabilly-indebted tune; the former frontman of Josef K is in fine form here, and he helps break up the more experimental leanings woven throughout the compilation. That’s something also done by Boyracer in just over a minute and a half with “Where to Place Your Trust.” How the hell punk-pop-indie rockers Boyracer come up with perfect song after perfect song is beyond me, but it’s more than welcome anytime. The title for standout song of the collection, however, goes to Entre Rios. The beautiful and haunting “Litoral,” sung en Espanol, has the Argentinian band coming off like a softer (believe it or not) Throwing Muses. If all the other songs where crap (which they’re not), “Litoral” would single-handedly save the day.

Kudos to Darla for making a compilation worthy of repeat listens, which doesn’t always happen. Usually, a comp will have three good songs and 10 complete bombs. All 17 bands here are interesting and diverse, and truly, as promised, from around the globe.