It seems no accident that the release of Dark Blue's new album Start of the World comes less than a week before voting for one of the most controversial and heated US presidential elections in living memory.
Led by the crooning baritone of John Sharkey III, who, as former frontman of Clockcleaner and Puerto Rico Flowers, is himself no stranger to heated controversy, the Philadelphia four-piece drop a soundtrack to a decaying America wracked by false hope. This is an album about a nation of 318 million people faced with a miserable choice.
The follow up to their debut Pure Reality LP, Start of the World, released on 12XU, is a pop album that makes no apologies. Tracks such as "Be Gone Everyone", "Western Front" and "Bombs On The Beach" meld cold and heavy post-punk, shoe gaze and Brit-pop channeled with a Philly accent.
The music moves between pretty and ugly often within the same song. Listen below and read a brief chat we had with Sharkey.
Noisey: The album has been playing at South Philly cafe The Tasty. Do the staff get any say in this or does the decision come straight from management?
John Sharkey: It's a strict management decision but I know we are very popular with vegans. Morrissey, Colin Kaepernik, Bruce Willis. They all eat there and are constantly asking about the new Dark Blue like they don't follow us on Facebook.
As a father, how has this presidential election race made you feel about the future?
Much like the two-party system, this election is a joke. There's one political party in the USA; The Shit Party. Flush it down the fucking toilet. Being a father doesn't change how I've always felt about Donald Trump and Hilary Clinton. One is a golden blithering buffoon and the other is a war mongering, power hungry, rape apologist. Imagine being a punk and saying "I'm with her". That Le Tigre reunion was a pretty incredible infomercial for a flowbie or a shamwow. Fucking shills. The Daily Show Houseband. The overzealous cheerleaders for a false bill of goods. "I'm with endless war and Wall St and dead brown children!" Well, I hope you're very fucking proud of yourself.
There seems a bleakness to the album but also a defiance. Is it getting more difficult to keep up a punk defiance?
Not until I become rich, homeboy. That's when you quit caring about other people. Once I make that first million, I'll happily hand in my Conscious and Crucifix records.
Where is the album cover image taken? It seems the perfect metaphor of the broken family home/country.
It was taken in the city of Chester which is a perfect metaphor for the USA. In the 1960s it was a boom-town just south of Philadelphia. It's since been so neglected that it's become a barren wasteland of gang violence, drug abuse and poverty. The house on the cover stood in that state for over two years. Just up the road, though, is a brand new glistening soccer stadium for the Philadelphia Union. The rich people get funnelled in for their little fun soccer match in the state of the art castle of tone-deaf opulence and then escorted by police and sent on their merry way when it ends. Oh yeah but the stadium hires people from Chester and pays them a hefty wage of sweet fuck all an hour. No real first-world-country has a Chester or Camden, NJ or North Philadelphia or East St. Louis or Gary, Indiana. I could go on but I'm getting ready to go to the Union match. Does my hair look good?
The album launch is at a batting cage? Do top order Phillies players get in for free? Judging by their 2016 season they could do with some practice.
That was kind of the idea. Last season I would say at least five starters used Dark Blue as their walk-up music. It's really thrown a wrench in the ratio of hillbilly auto-tune music and reggaeton. It's time to show the boys a good time while tricking them into maybe taking a few hacks. Heaven knows they could fucking use it.
'Start of the World' is available Nov 4 on 12XU.
Image: Autumn Spadaro