If there’s one thing that I love, it’s finding out that a band I really love has put out new music. But what I love even more is when a band I’ve completely written off as “disbanded” returns with new music. LA rockers TSAR put out two phenomenal albums that really didn’t get the attention they deserved.
Their self-titled debut album is more than worthy of a CLASSIC ALBUMS REVISITED post and their last record, BAND GIRLS MONEY was worthy follow-up that proved the band wasn’t a fluke. But then something happened, I don’t know because I’m not in LA and I don’t follow that scene…but TSAR went away. Then, a few days ago, I was prepping my iPhone for a trip and what do I see on Spotify? Brand-spanking new TSAR music.
THE DARK STUFF is an Ep of five songs; all killer, no filler power-pop perfection. Upon first listen, I was surprised at how dark THE DARK STUFF really is. Sure, the music is still sugary and fun; but TSAR aren’t pulling any punches–these songs have a real bite to them. The first song, “Punctual Alcoholic” is a demented, spooky song that appropriately name-checks Stephen King. The phrase punctual alcoholic is one of those really good TSAR-isms that I’ve been missing over the last few years.
Despite being really well-produced, the song was a bit of shock in that it wasn’t as hyper-produced as the songs from BAND GIRLS MONEY. It’s a really good, really catchy song that instantly reminded me why I love this band.
The second track, “Police Station” is a more straight-forward rocker and sounded more akin to the songs from the band’s last album, but toned down and more thoughtful. I especially like the reference’s to “Teen Wizards,” another of the band’s songs. “Little Woman” returns to the darker, melodic quality that gives the Ep it’s name.
The best song on THE DARK STUFF is the last track, “Something Bad Happened To Me.” Like “Punctual Alcoholic,” it’s more restrained than the band’s previous album but edgier. It’s like a haunted-house where the music is provided by Cheap Trick by way of George Harrison, The Cars, and Steely Dan. It’s a very cool, multi-faceted song that seamlessly morphs from acoustic noodle to electric monster.
TSAR is still a great power pop band, but with THE DARK STUFF the band seems to be moving away from the endless-partyrock sensability and more textured, mature rock. I didn’t think it would be possible for TSAR to come back and actually be more interesting than they already were, but with THE DARK STUFF the band has proven that not only are they back but they’re better than ever. I only hope that we don’t have to wait long for the full album.