Whether it’s through songwriting or ingesting influences so deeply that they’re released in a effortless manner, there’s a fine balancing act a band must make today in order to move beyond merely latching on to a style. On Darker Circles, the Sadies have achieved this approach. Some may miss the bash-it-out roughness heard on the Canadian act’s 2007 release New Season, but a hint of what is refined here could be found on “Yours to Discover” from that album. A degree of credit goes to producer Gary Louris (The Jayhawks) who brings out a polished quality to the 11 tracks without any of them becoming slick and overstuffed. The ability to walk a fine line comes up immediately on opening track, “Another Year Again.” Echoes of country rock dipped in lyrical regret hover over the proceedings, but the result is much more interesting than just another band adding some twang to their rock ‘n’ roll. The next number, “Cut Corners,” adds to what soon becomes one knockout song after another.
The steadiness of the musicians’ performances allows the transitions from one stylistic choice to another to run by smoothly — the country & western period Byrds on “Postcards” is followed by 13th Floor Elevators psychedlia on “Another Day Again,” which then morphs into a “supergroup” of Gordon Lightfoot joining Crosby, Stills & Nash on “Idle Tomorrows.” “Violet and Jeffrey Lee” winds through a twisted yet absorbing musical landscape that stops by eight-miles-high ‘60s pop as sculpted through a prism that encompasses the Church and the Flying Burrito Brothers, while “Ten More Songs” sounds as if Pete Townshend co-wrote Tommy with Ennio Morricone and Roky Erickson. Yes, a lot of artists’ names have been supplied as sonic touchstones but the Sadies make the most of all those elements, and shine them into a unified, sparkling diamond of sound the members can call their own.