One might not expect quality indie rock to come out of the Yukon Territory. Not that there’s anything non-rock about the Canadian Province, but hey: less than 45,00 people live there; that’s less than half the population of my small mountain city. And the Yukon is about the size of Spain; that would seem to mean than one might have to look far and wide to find like-minded musicians with whom to create and collaborate.
The good news for them – and by extension, for us – is that they did. Three middle- aged musicians, all with lives, families and day jobs – found each other, and found a way to do more than simply jam and cover the works of other, more well-known groups. Drummer Tara Martin, multi-instrumentalist Jordy Walker (on bass, guitars, synthesizer and production duties) and singer-songwriter Jeff Wolosewich make up The Dark Fruits.
Released in 2019, the trio’s debut showcased a cheery, accessible character reminiscent of a cross between The Tragically Hip and Semisonic (curiously that’s a Canadian band and a Minnesotan one; what that meas is up to you, but there’s something to it). Warm Weather starter Pack is the band’s second full-length, just released in October.
One wonders to what degree travel fires the collective imaginations of the group. Maybe, just maybe the cold winters of the Yukon Territory led to fanciful thoughts of SoCal; that might explain why the record opens with “California Beach.” Some wordless Beach Boys harmonies introduce the tune, but the song quickly goes somewhere very different. A strange melodic line with jittery phrasing and a wonky time signature aren’t at all what one might have expected. Catcher and peppier is “Marianna” a solid slab of mighilty melodic indierock; think of a calmed-down Sugar.
That likely fixation with warmer climes rears its head again on “Florida.” Winsome vocal harmonies are among the tune’s virtues. “Asymptomatic” folds in some stuttery sonics, and in the end it sounds a lot like Smash Mouth with less of a ska feel. “The Threat is Real” has a stomping melody redolent of late ‘90s Flaming Lips. The drums on this track sound a bit programmed; maybe that was the plan.
It’s back to warmer weather topics for “Ten Lakes and a Pool.” The tune takes a while to develop, but when it does, it has a winning character. “No Bars” recalls Fountain of Wayne (always a good thing). “No Blue” shows hints of electronica alongside some creamy harmonies. With its Hal Blaine-styled intro, the shimmering “Downtime” is among the most commercial/accessible-feeling tracks on Warm Weather Starter Pack. The set wraps up with the 10cc-leaning “Serious Celebration.” The track features the most interesting aural textures found on the entire record.
The Dark Fruits have lots of great musical ideas, and they present them in a rock-solid collection here.