Scott Taylor reviews Black After Dark, the debut album from Swansea band Bandicoot, writing on its heady mix of nostalgia and originality.
It is ironic that an album called Black After Dark with an album cover that features the band, Bandicoot, in a monochromatic black and white is one of the most colourful, upbeat and bright albums that you will hear so far this year. After two years of lockdown and isolation, the last thing we need is more darkness. It is good then that we have art to help us return to some normalcy and excitement, and Black After Dark is exactly what was needed.
Bandicoot are a four-piece hailing from Swansea and their debut album is a versatile powerhouse, often venturing from loud and dissonant to quiet and peaceful and back again within seconds. The track ‘O Nefoedd!’ builds to this climactic and noisy explosion of sound at its end, but the next track ‘Early in the Morning’ opens quietly, almost like a lullaby. Bandicoot go from extreme to extreme throughout this album, but also blend and hop genres like their lives depend on it. From indie rock to post-punk to blues, the influences of David Bowie, The Velvet Underground and CAN are not hard to miss. But that isn’t to say that this album is obvious or a copy. In fact, it is far from that. The record never ceases to feel fresh and bold, despite it being so heavily influenced by acts from decades ago.
Furthermore, Black After Dark features some incredible musicianship and very memorable performances. Bandicoot clearly put their heart and soul into this record, and the music reflects that. The vocals on the album are great and show a talented and multi-faceted vocalist who shines best when the album is at its loudest and brightest. The guitars are driving and domineering whilst the drums provide an explosive backbone and punch through the tracks as hard as they can. Black After Dark deserves to be played on speakers as loud as possible, so you can scream along and jump around to Bandicoot as they blast you away with their incredible combinations of alt-rock, punk, and indie rock.
In fact, that is Black After Dark’s best strength. After two years of isolation and boredom, this album makes you feel like you’re in a small club somewhere in a dark room with music so loud and upbeat that you can’t help but just want to get up, dance and finally have some fun. Tracks like ‘Bleed Out’ and ‘Dark Too Long’ are perfectly tailored to getting you thrashing around. That said, the quieter and slower tracks on this album do not hinder but greatly enhance its 44-minute run time. The album slows down as it reaches its final tracks and ends on the poignant ‘There’s a Light in Everyone’ which sounds like it would be right at home on Alex Turner’s Submarine soundtrack. This track is one of the best songs on the album in fact and feels nostalgic and personal, drawing everything to a very neat, beautiful finish.
Black After Dark shows that Bandicoot are here to make a statement and earn their spot in the great wave of post-punk that we are seeing form and dominate in the UK. Bandicoot deserves that spot. They take their influences and imbue them with their own energy and power to create something both new and nostalgic. Black After Dark is a band breaking out in one of the most impressive and entertaining ways possible whilst also experimenting with the mixing and bending of multiple genres, and ultimately laying a great foundation for them to further develop their sound and from.
Black After Dark by Bandicoot is streaming now.