The Inner Party – a five-piece, from Fayetteville, Arkansas – are often described as space punk, but don’t tend to sit still within one particular sound or style, making them quite engaging. Officially established in 2007, the band began with Keith Miller (vocals, guitar) and Dave Morris (bass, vocals), and then expanded to include Bob Gaiser (keys, vocals), Jacob Arnold (drums, vocals) and Sean Johnson (guitar, vocals). Interestingly, they have performed alongside the likes of Bam Margera, and while I am not sure exactly what this performance would have entailed, I definitely would have liked to bear witness to it.
Darker, which was released on August 10th, 2018, is their sophomore full-length. It is a long album with the number of songs surpassed only by the number of credits to guest appearances. It is not enough to say that there is a lot going on throughout the album, as there is A LOT going on just in each track. Some of my favourite moments are a haunting, almost circus-like combination of drums, guitar and horns drifting in and out with an overlay of often indiscriminate vocals in tracks like the opening “Accelerant” and “To Be A Star.” Equally as haunting and beautiful is the church-like signing in the outro of “Never Made It,” which comes after an awesome spacey, guitar and piano solo. The way the piano is taken up in solos like the one I just mentioned and in the background of “Propheteering” reminds me of the wild and erratic piano playing of Foxy Shazam. And actually, I would really even like to just listen to the piano layer of “Never Made It,” as it sounds like it would be wicked on its own.
Although you could probably write a whole novel on this album, one of the tracks that sticks out for me is “Interplanetary” which reminds me of the Talking Heads with its upbeat 80s synth vibe. Once you think you’ve figured out where it is going, it gets quite heavy with a heavily distorted bass line. It is a weird song and a weird mix of sounds, but it all comes together in a joyfully bizarre way. Speaking of the synth, there were at least four or five points throughout the album – one of which is the aptly named track “Exorcism” – in which I felt like I was listening to the soundtrack of the original Nightmare on Elm Street, about to watch Johnny Depp die. There is also an abundance of space references throughout the lyrics, and there are lots of sound bytes, like that in “Collapse Into Iron,” that sound as if they are the audio output on an old television floating out in space.
Just when you think they couldn’t cover yet another sound, “Nearby Star” opens with a rare acoustic guitar appearance and the track slides into an almost bluesy, old-school country track with a twist. The vocals, violin, guitar – all of it crescendoes into awesomeness. While the whole album is quite good, this is by far my favourite track, and one of the most interesting songs I have heard in a while. I highly recommend making it this far into the album.
All this is to say that Darker is a lot, it is different, and I like it.
Written by Jordan Hodgins
*edited by Kate Erickson