While there is no shortage of acts now mining that ’80s dark wave sound, most of it comes across as style over substance. Thankfully, though, there are bands like Black Marble proving that isn’t always the case.
Despite getting lumped with groups like the Soft Moon, Trust and Light Asylum, the NYC duo could just as easily be compared to early, synth-oriented Magnetic Fields and John Maus, though with an even more pronounced perma-frown. Black Marble proved that on their Weight Against the Door EP earlier this year, but they’ve definitely made a step up on their full-length debut, A Different Arrangement.
The duo of Chris Stewart and Ty Kube succeed in their ability to keep things simple, offering up a darkened brand of humble synth pop that never overreaches or gets carried away. But that’s not to say Black Marble don’t deliver some memorable hooks, most often courtesy of Stewart’s always-in-check baritone, as the keyboard-bass arrangements take over the mid-range and bring plenty of murky atmospheres. If you were looking for new cold-romantic anthems to slowly shuffle about to, standouts like “A Grand Design,” “UK” and “MSQ No Extra” will more than satisfy.
Black Marble may be influenced by a decades-old genre form, but good songs never go out of style, and A Different Arrangement is full of them.