Signed to the independent label Hidden Pony Records (also home to the brilliant Rebekah Higgs), this album by Canadian four-piece The Danks is a record which explores slightly retro indie rock sounds, often at maximum speed. Within a minute or so of the opening number, ‘What We’re Doing’, The Danks’ main aim is to get you bouncing. The guitars jangle relentlessly – and it’s often those guitars which provide the core of the band’s sound – under which, the bass work is far more interesting. Luckily, it’s with the second track, ‘Who Knows’ where things really begin to warm up, as that bass pushes towards the fore and sounds superb when colliding against unashamedly new wave keyboard fills. Throughout this pair of tunes, vocalist Brohan Moore adopts a slightly slack delivery and an occasionally unsure high-pitched tone, in a style which could be compared to The Thrills’ Conor Deasy.
Over the course of the rest of their debut, The Danks rarely deviate from this solid musical formula. In theory, although a couple of slower numbers wouldn’t have hurt (and it might have showed off something resembling a musical range), they should be praised for having such a strong sound and fully knowing what really works for the band at such an early stage in their career. ‘Shifty’ finds the distortion turned down a touch, while more of a Hi-Fives influenced rock ‘n’ roll ethic drives the guitars. Everyone sounds most at ease here; while there are a couple of catchier choruses to be found elsewhere, this tune is one of the album’s most well-rounded.
Another stand-out, ‘I’m Alright’ presents another lovely new wave keyboard which hammers a simple riff into your skull in place of a chorus, while Brian Murphy’s bass rattles in a more aggressive fashion. Most bands would have certainly tried to find space for a more obvious vocal refrain, but honestly, the keyboards are so memorable, this track stands up as it is: simple, but fun. Elsewhere, ‘The Squealer’ demonstrates Adam Hindle’s abilities with a hi-hat, while the rest of the band mix more jangly rock with almost shoe-gaze levels of distortion. It’s probably the closest ‘Are You Afraid…’ comes to a slow number, allowing the listener a brief opportunity to pause for reflection…
‘Are You Afraid of The Danks’ offers twelve pieces of sunny indie rock, which when taken individually are all fine, groovy and incredibly professional. While it’s relative one-paced nature can sometimes feel a little wearing, if you’re looking for something upbeat and trashy, you could do far worse than check this out.