When Darker My Love formed in the mid-2000s, its music had garagey overtones, fuzz, even a tinge of soul (or at least '60s Brits channeling soul). But 2010's Alive As You Are finds the California band moving in a direction more ... Californian.
The LP, issued by Silverlake, Ca. label Dangerbird, has a vibe reminiscent of American Beauty-era Grateful Dead. It's an unexpected turn for a band founded by two musicians who've served in legendary post-punk band The Fall (Tim Presley and Rob Barbato) and the onetime drummer of The Distillers (Andy Granelli, no longer with Darker My Love).
But the docile sounds of Alive As You Are don't indicate Darker My Love's retreat from snappy pop-rock songwriting; the band keeps it tight, avoiding the drawn-out jam aspect that is the downfall of so many Dead-worshipping bands today. A track like "Split Minute," with its oscillating, hypnotic verses shaken up by a cutting, energetic bridge, proves that the band isn't getting lazy. And the nods to Brits aren't entirely absent: "Dear Author" plays like a late Beatles tune, or even a song from a '90s Britpop outfit.
On the whole, Alive offers more jangle and jam -- and less distortion and dark-and-heavy -- than the band's previous offerings. It's a sound that's been done before, and therefore can come off as played-out, but Darker My Love wears it well.
Darker My Love, opening for Delta Spirit with The Fling 9 p.m. Tue., Nov. 30. Brillobox 4104 Penn Ave., Bloomfield. $16. 412-621-4900 or brillobox.net