This makes it six years since Darker My Love got their psychedelic labors under way, and it still seems unusual that guitarist/singer Tim Presley is the same Tim Presley of long-defunct hardcore agitators the Nerve Agents. That feeling stems less from Presley's shuffling styles and more from how listless Darker can be.
On 2008's 2, the group dropped hints that they might be easing up on the shoegaze-esque scenery; this third album, however, drastically defangs them, and for no good reason. Alive is a patchouli-scented love letter to the folky psychedelia mastered by the Byrds, the Beatles, and the Doors. But what allowed those bands to become influential forces was a proclivity for plotting full, often daring songs, not just scrolling through a list of æsthetic tricks and idly regurgitating them.
Alive checks off ambling strings, chants ideal for hangouts in grassy parks, the occasional twinkling organ, limited distortion, and a corny, semi-country twang without offering any surprises or sturdy, fresh melodies. Where's the band's personality? Promises glimmer everywhere, as when off-kilter instrumental breaks start stabbing away at "18th Street," but the entire album eventually drifts past without delivering anything as sonically — or emotionally —provocative.