Ready, Steady, Die!’s “Darkstar”

Intentionally robotic but steeped in conceptualism that can’t help but bring to mind the heavy sounds of Nick Cave or something even more clandestinely dark by design, Ready, Steady, Die!’s “Darkstar” initially feels like a slab of post-pop from another era in history, but as it unfolds, it starts to sound unmistakably modern in every way that counts. A lyrically brooding number that alludes to emotionality a lot of indie bands stay away from these days, this track and its companion video are enjoyable for the audiophile and dark poet fans the same.

Rather than trying to rely on a lot of implied themes in the music video for this track, there’s scarcely a moment in which it doesn’t feel like the elegiac imagery on the screen isn’t penetrative in every sense that a bold art piece should be. This act wants us to feel a little uncomfortable as the harmonies come together before our ears, but they also want us to relate to the bit of warmth surrounded by icy melodicism in “Darkstar.” Thoughtfulness is a rare commodity in the vast majority of the pop music that lands on my desk, but this cannot be said for anything this band has produced to my knowledge. 

The heaviness of the mix creates a savage sonic depression on the vocals, and from where I sit, this effect can be credited with singlehandedly intensifying the passion in the lyrics in a way nothing else could have. It’s only through the thick grind of the backdrop, as melodic as the climax may be, that we’re able to appreciate the punch of the narrative in this single, and by putting as much oomph into the instrumentation as they did, Ready, Steady, Die! prove to have a truly smart approach to making intellectually-stimulating alternative pop music in 2022.  

There’s a post-punk-esque experimental quality to the structure of the verses here that Ready, Steady, Die! should explore in the future, and I like that they’re able to balance this fringe element in their sound with something that is undeniably fetching in the style of the melodies at the beginning and end of the track. The instrumental components give us a familiar, almost classic new wave vibe atop which the band colorizes a confession-style set of verses that sound personal and unforced, and even if this sounds like a notion other groups have had in the past, I would ask you to try and find another dark pop band out at the moment that has the combination of aesthetical prowess and aural subtlety this act does.  

While I can’t say for sure when I’m going to have the opportunity to do so, I’m looking forward to seeing Ready, Steady, Die! take the stage with material like “Darkstar” in the near future. Theirs is a sound that was made to blossom before a crowd of people just as much as it does in the studio, and it bears a certain weightiness that tells me future tours for this group could definitely be must-see events.  

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