I Love You But I’ve Chosen Darkness has done an amazing job of concocting an amusingly dreary, yet fashionable aura for themselves in their half-decade existence. One can’t deny the allure of their almost humorously weighty name, though paired with their ultra-cool logo of a black cross within a blue heart, it becomes a source of intrigue and mystique. Add that to the three years of waiting that the Austin band has compelled us to undergo after the release of their debut EP (produced by Spoon’s Britt Daniel, no less) before even handing over a proper album, and the appeal mounts even higher.
All this in addition to the hazy minor key whirr that emanates from Fear is On Our Side has led a few to dub the band, “goth.” I can’t necessarily refute that claim, though their debut EP was arguably more of a pop affair. Their latest is doubtless a dark record, one with more than a passing nod to heroes of the post-punk era. ILYBICD isn’t necessarily subscribing to the recent pattern of Joy Division and Gang of Four worship, however. There are tinges of the former and not the latter, but there are also shades of The Cure, later Talk Talk, 154-era Wire and even the dreamscapes of vintage Slowdive. To some extent, this melancholy chorus-treated miasma can be attributed to this round’s noteworthy producer—Paul Barker. Yeah, that Paul Barker. He wasn’t always making metal machine music, you know.
At times, vocalist Christian Goyer has an emotive, yet slightly ragged rasp that serves as a contrast to the effects-treated melodies, like when he repeats “I think about how I miss you over the pounding, menacing opener “The Ghost.” Other times, he croons gently and wispy, as on the sexy, danceable “According to Plan.” And despite its vaporous threads of gossamer guitar weaving in and out like cirrus clouds, “Plan” is the obvious choice for a single, if only for its rubber band bassline, courtesy of Edward Robert. Yet after a brief reprieve from more projective vocal heroics, Goyer goes deep within his pipes for the powerful delivery on “Lights,” one of the few songs that sounds like Interpol, a band spawned from similar influences with somewhat different results.
I Love You But I’ve Chosen Darkness, goth or not, does nail some creepy atmosphere down, particularly on the instrumental tracks. “The Owl,” though instrumental, could have been an outtake from Faith or Closer, with its two minutes of echoing gloom and weird guitar treatments. “At Last Is All” is even more similar to The Cure, tapping into that band’s penchant for dark accessibility and unlikely catchiness. And though the 12 songs on this album rise and fall in speed and key, the culmination of all their efforts comes together in the final and best song, “If It Was Me.” The band not only gets points for putting the best song at the end, but for making it so incredible. By combining both the atmospheric elements of their sound and the harder-edged post-punk leanings, they create an arty masterpiece, one with a melody that won’t be forgotten soon.
Chosen Darkness would be cool enough just for their name and logo alone. I mean, who wouldn’t wear that on a t-shirt? That the music is so mysterious and compelling (and quite good) makes it all even better. The next time I spin this record, though, I may have to borrow my girlfriend’s eyeliner.
The Cure – Faith
The Wilderness – The Wilderness
Joy Division – Closer
Jeff Terich is the founder and editor of Treble. He's been writing about music for 20 years and has been published at American Songwriter, Bandcamp Daily, Reverb, Spin, Stereogum, uDiscoverMusic, VinylMePlease and some others that he's forgetting right now. He's still not tired of it.