New band of the day – No 976: Dark Dark Dark

This Minneapolis mob mix Americana with European influences, like Mazzy Star if they were formed in 19th-century Prague

Hometown: Minneapolis.

The lineup: Nona Marie Invie (vocals, piano, accordion), Marshall LaCount (banjo, clarinet, vocals), Todd Chandler (upright bass, backing vocals), Jonathan Kaiser (cello, guitar, backing vocals), Walt McClements (piano, accordion, trumpet, backing vocals), Brett Bullion (drums, percussion).

The background: Dark Dark Dark know that their sometimes bouncy and upbeat (and other times gentle but jarring) chamber folk will deceive some listeners into thinking their music is actually bright bright bright, because that's exactly what they called their 2010 EP, and it's their MySpace url. It's not just the fact that they use banjo, clarinet and accordion; it's the way the Minneapolis sextet, who have been recording under the radar since 2008 (give or take the use of their material in Grey's Anatomy and American Idol), use those instruments. They approach them at a jaunty angle.

Not always, though, like we say. And if they do, they usually offset them with peculiar lyrics that intimate all manner of dark dark dark urges and thwarted (thwarted thwarted) passions. They might tell a story about a lover's rendezvous that ends with the woman accidentally falling into a river and drowning, or they may paint a picture of clouds falling from the sky as people on the ground below patiently wait to die. The music might be a jolly sea shanty, but the words are likely to go, "And when I hold you underwater/ Count which breath will be your last".

The title track of that EP features delicately brushed drums and violin, the sort of thing that would have worked a treat on the soundtrack to the Black Swan. "You always cared for me and I pushed you in the dark," sings Nona Marie Invie, the multi-instrumentalist who, along with Marshall LaCount, forms the songwriting core of the group. Her voice, if you can get your heard round such a paradox, is soft but strident, like Siouxsie Sioux if she'd been a folkie. It fits the material better than LaCount's, which we're struggling to find a better way of describing than nasal and camp. Not that there's anything wrong with nasal camp, as Neil Tennant can attest, it just doesn't suit the milieu.

There are eastern European influences here rubbing up against Americana ones. There are spectral interludes and moments of muted drama. There are backing vocals that sound like a Balkan choir. There is a song entitled The Hand which is very French, although clearly more in a Piaf than a Daft Punk way. There are varied rhythms, although mainly from the pre-rock era: imagine Mazzy Star if they were formed in 19th-century Prague. Finally, there is an image on the sleeve of their new album Wild Go of Nona Marie, completely naked save for the tattoos on her behind, her back to the camera, her mildly scowling face as inscrutable as her music. She doesn't "bare all" in her songs, but she does make you feel as though you're intruding in her private world, which is no fun, but it does make for a valuably intimidating experience.

The buzz: "The instruments swirl together into an otherworldly eddy of sound" – Pitchfork.

The truth: They might not be a doom metal or emo band, but their songs are none-more-dark (dark dark).

Most likely to: Say cello, wave goodbye.

Least likely to: Regrette rien.

What to buy: The album Wild Go is released by Melodic on 25 April.

File next to: Hem, Beirut, Kristin Hersh, Edith Piaf.


Wednesday's new band: AlunaGeorge.


Paul Lester

The GuardianTramp

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