Live: Cirque de l'obscurité. Dark Dark Dark, Bush Hall.

Desperate times call for desperate musics, to bastardise the age-old hackneyed proverb. And although there may be some utterly tragic frequencies forcibly lodged in the mainstream and consequently indelibly inscribed into a collective memory contemporarily, touring Minneapolis troubadours Dark Dark Dark exude a despair to beguile perhaps the more amenable of A List zealots. Reticent as many great musicians before them may be recalled, they shuffle onstage unannounced and indeed unnoticed by some, immediately having to contend with ill-timed technical issue. "That's it; show's over", bespectacled banjoist-cum-clarinetist Marshall LaCount wryly sniggers. Thankfully for we and – if his interpretive swooning throughout is any applicable indicator – he, the show must go on.

And although opting to shy away from the retina-singing glare of overhead projectors, from cocksure postures of extravagance Dark Dark Dark really do put on a show of understated adroitness: Walt McClements' doleful yet irrevocably dulcet accordion tones recall smoke-perfumed soirées in Café de Paris circa '33; Mark Trecka, the unsung lynchpin of the thing, caresses his intimate, deconstructed kit to cajole tangible yet almost scientifically calculated, eccentric rhythmic accents from it; whilst Adam Wozniak's sturdy bass lines provide stability to counterbalance the periodically seemingly unhinged Nona Marie Invie and her predominantly pining, harrowingly languishing subject matter.

However in terms of their onstage demeanour, as David Longstreth once wailed, stillness is most certainly the move. Yet given the morbid despondence that is at once inextricable from the subtle majesty emanating from the furthest end of the regal Bush Hall their moribund motions, when set against such thematic lyrical commotion, engender little incredulity. They overelaborate a little on the avant-garde propensities of Wild Go and as LaCount screeches from clarinet and Trecka gleans bloodcurdling chalkboard claw from scratched cymbal, a few eyes glaze over. This lovelorn chanson, its verses centred upon allegories of aimlessly ambling rivers and seasonal decay, is a little lost here in London although it's one of very few moments the five-piece avert stare from ball. For their set is delivered with the intermittently precarious rigour of any given circus act and, resembling a rather motley crew whilst sounding a little like an unorthodox Romany orchestra, there's an element of the cirque to them. The permeating strains of accordion lend to this aesthetic, although it's hardly Yakety Sax at any discernible point. From an inexcusably critical perspective perhaps every band has now lamentably become nothing more than a travelling circus; a commercialist's commodity only fit to entertain for as long as our abbreviated attentions may permit. The cyclical nature of Dark Dark Dark's sketched intentions for the remainder of the year in fact substantiate such theory: the foundations of their third LP are to be laid down in May, they return to these shores for estival festivals, they release the aforesaid full-length come October, prior to returning for The National's ATP.

Thus although they've no new record to tout to the throng (and indeed new material is slight in both presence and potency), they've already easily enough to elongate attentiveness over a quite sublime hour. The tentatively – or possibly purely deductively – entitled It's A Secret is one such scrutinization into that which is to come and as the band conglomerate about Invie, so too do the sounds of clarinet and almost omnipresent accordion contort about her flawless vocals. Coming to bathe as if to be baptised in a murky, viscous gloom Trouble No More is more intensely involving still as Invie's lyrics are instilled with a distilled hopelessness: "I gave up on whisky and beer" she assures, unconvinced, swigging spirit from plastic cuppage between many a song. How her happiness has been affected by a return to alcohol's deathly addiction is of course imperceptible although there is here a macabre exhilaration decomposing within their fusty chamber-folk, a gallery's worth of tattoos slithering out from sleeves and dancing behind thin veils of laddered nylon.

Something For Myself is wilder than some of the evening's more unruly whiskers, whilst the customary cover of "dear friend" Elephant Micah's Wild Goose Chase is brilliantly illumed. Another new composition, an anecdotal piece regarding moving on and getting over a once-loved one kills off the morbidity that lingers ominously over much of the set, with Invie confessing to being convinced of reconvening "in a week or two", then fantasising over slow-dancing "to Patsy Cline at the bar" as sobering balladry is again married up with a perfectly matched, evocative lyrical imagery. The ambience is switched to that of a sexually agitated ball beneath glinting chandeliers, apprehension inhibiting the actions of chaste Christians or equivalent adherents as a porous floor of agape mouths gawps up at her. Daydreaming breaks this effortlessly cast spell beautifully as Trecka practically dives into his ornate snare and Invie's ghostly piano refrain dances round the room to accordion keys. It's punctuated by worthy rapture. For despite the reiterated, alliterative darkness within the moniker, Dark Dark Dark are blindingly bright and in this well-lit Hall, with nowhere to hide, their songs are exposed as being equally so.