It’s always refreshing when a band you’ve known and loved for years returns with new material, and even more so when that material is the best the band has ever done. The Skeleton Key is Darling Waste’s fourth album since the band formed in Cleveland in 2009 (and sucked me in with the stunning I Am Born), and the musicianship on this album is tighter than its ever been.
The Skeleton Key hooks from the first thirty seconds with an epic intro that promises a truly stunning album will follow. “Sing Along Time” encourages the listener to do just that, driven by a rousing punk beat and front man Lance Waste’s cries of “Open up and sing!” The song has an awesome tempo change and breakdown that hearkens back to that intro, which I can only describe as “epic punk.” “I Am The Villain” continues the upbeat side of the album, with snarky lyrics and an even snarkier delivery (“You made your lonely little bed and now there’s nothing you can do but lay”) and it’s one of my favorite tracks here. “How I Spent My Summer Vacation” is a fun, straight up punk song (perfect for listening to with windows down), while “Dead at 27” is like a conversation with a long-lost friend about the bittersweet irony of life (and one can’t help but wonder if this is a nod to the many rock stars that have passed away at that age). The anxious and complex “Grand Guignol” is my favorite track on the album, encompassing everything that is terrifying about falling in (or out) of love.
It wouldn’t be a Darling Waste album without a few heart-wrenching love songs, of course. “Hearts and Daggers” soars and captures the magic of a new relationship, while “Hurt Before,”(featuring a female vocal from Stef Hushka), is a slow burn duet that is striking in its simplicity (“I want to love you, but I’ve been hurt before”). “Same Old Song” is stripped nearly bare to showcase Lance’s aching, emotive voice as he laments, “There’s something broken inside me.”
The Skeleton Key is unlike anything Darling Waste has ever done, and it works extremely well, with music, lyrics and emotion fusing together effortlessly.
The Skeleton Key drops August 11th, 2017 on Imminence Records. Available for pre-order here