Sublime Recital. Dark Dark Dark, Who Needs Who.

Woebegone Minneapolis troubadours Dark Dark Dark have thus far led something of a serendipitous existence. The quirky, lopsided kilter to Daydreaming came to prominence on various sitcom spots, whilst their second most savoured, Wild Goose Chase, is but a conventional cover of the magnum opus of "dear friend" Elephant Micah. And so here they are, flaunting their third Supply & Demand-released record in five years, their melodramatic, hybridised Romani tones once again engrained in history forevermore. However where Nona Marie Invie's musical miscellany have previously had fortune favour them to an extent, if there's any true justice in the world then never before will there have been as much demand for these Minnesotan nomads as there ought be now in the wake of the release of Who Needs Who. To limber up on outstretched limb, I'd propose you needing this record more than you could ever know.

Granted, the aftertaste to Invie's maudlin paeans is an acquired one. Like liquorice, it's one suffused with traditionalism; with antiquity and days of yore. Your opinion is almost more dependant on your own personal upbringing than it is formed according to its impression upon the ears. Although if allowed to frolic upon the tongue without inhibition then it's one to engender addiction in the very same way that Downton Abbey may. For Who Needs Who already carries the weight of a period piece. Subjectively, it this time feels less of Louisiana jazz and carney folk, and indeed more Edwardian almost. The sublime waltz to Patsy Cline, for instance, is the sort that were it made tangible, would be encapsulated in a locket and kept safe for the unforeseeable futures. Invie's keys heave, as her lovelorn lyrics directed at a departed swain articulate an unwavering frigidity. "I thought we'd meet up in a week or two/ And we'd slow dance to Patsy Cline at the bar/ But now that you're gone/ My life goes on", she soberly bewails. Were it not for the reference to the Virginia warbler it's the sort of recording that could quite feasibly have come from almost any epoch: sparsely orchestrated with only the odd whisper of cymbal and sporadic outbursts of accordion, Invie is unmistakably paramount to its creaky emotivity as she recites the part of the doleful gentlewoman plagued by the stiffest of upper lips.

I've always found Invie herself to be a rather inscrutable character, thus it's difficult to discern with any degree of certitude whether this is but a part suited to her dulcet vocals, or rather whether this is less a part and more the whole. Who Needs Who needs Invie, although who she is remains inconclusive. However irregardless of such complexities, as I say, it's a recorded persona that plays to her great advantage. And indeed it's one she assumes elsewhere across this tracklisting: diseased with a "sliver in my bone" on its eponymous opener, she portrays the alas all-knowing "memory of trust" that swallows all fact and fiction from the mouth of an ambiguous you. A jaunty shanty of sorts bolstered by cirque brass and a zany middle eight, it ensures the album takes off on a springy front foot.

Tell Me, too, is a rather sprightly and moreover remarkably bright number musically, although again lyrically it's Invie at her introspective and distressed best. "I want to live in a time when you cherished me", she laments. "Oh to go back to the place when your hands moved over me", she continues in a tone of frangible defiance, her identifiable human emotions here translated to human contact. Both thematically and vocally, the Chan Marshall parallels draw themselves. Little respite comes with the staccato rumblings of Last Time I Saw Joe, although at least this time we've a forename to focus our undue irascibility upon as we again sympathise with the part Invie strictly typecasts herself as. "Last time I saw Joe we were smoking cigarettes/ on my frontstep/ reciting Roger Miller and boasting in this free-spirited time/ But where did it go and what would we do/ When everything's said and everything's true?" she rhetorically queries. Thus even in times of seemed glee, her thoughts hover around that impending gloom which besets the eternal pessimist. For shame nothing lasts forever, and the same is true of this extraordinary first half of the finest thing we've yet to hear from Dark Dark Dark.

Concluding this segment – this side of the 180g clear vinyl – is Without You, an ever elegiac ebbing tide of spasmodic rim shots and slumped bass thud. "All of the times we had/ I keep them with all my best memories", yowls she but given a this time significantly more robust bottom end there's an unapologetic indifference to her sigh-styled words. A change in the tide, perhaps.

The opening stanzas of Side 2 rather substantiate such theory: "I was acting rich like everyone else did/ I was acting well-to-do, if well-to-do means being good to you/ I was acting in my element and you in yours too/ I was acting like every single night was like this" it begins, to the tune of guitars that gleam with a baroque gild and grand curls of piano. Her voice immediately evocative of Van Etten, How It Went Down is yet another tale of love drifting out into the realms of the unrequited – another motif to assimilate Who Needs Who to past histories – although it's this time what sounds an abyssal age gap that distances and subsequently extinguishes any flickering passions. "I am young, and you are young, and we grow/ Now you are young, and it feels like I've grown old/ So take your time, a feeling round here can be so cold/ Take your time, I'll see you somewhere/ When seasons unfold." Chillingly elegant lyricisms once more, but it's the instrumental adroitness of the clan that scuttles to the fore on this markedly autonomous second half.

It's A Secret swells with impactful dramaturgy and is the harmony to linger longest once the needle eventually arises for the second and final time; Hear Me assumes a dark and mechanical aesthetic as Invie's voice deepens to the depths of Anika's brooding tenor, thereby starkly differentiating it from anything here or indeed there, if there be both Wild Go and The Snow Magic; and Meet Me In The Dark is the soundtrack to that brisk halcyon promenade atop the shadows of the Seine you never had. Although it's a lyric within its most serene of denouements that perfectly epitomises Who Needs Who, for as Invie soothes: "You try to take the best of me" she has reached its conclusion, intact and intransigent, despite the actions of they that she eloquently criticises and condemns throughout. From Dark Dark Dark comes great light, and this is their most radiant effort to date. A tale of two masterfully recited sides, both prove utterly brilliant.