James O’Brien is a Melbourne, Australia-based multi-instrumentalist and singer/songwriter, best known for being the frontman of renowned Australian act Boat People, and with his solo recording project Darling James, O’Brien has received attention both nationally and internationally for hook-laden yet sophisticated take on pop — his single “God’s Graffiti” featured lyrics that were metaphysical musings, paired with a shimmering and atmospheric production that reminded me a bit of Reptile Youth‘s Away EP — but with an earnest yearning for meaning, for more
Now, as you may recall O’Brien’s sophomore Darling James effort MOOD EYES was released earlier this year and the material was initially written, pieced together, then auditioned, revised and culled from a series of songs and song ideas that made the cut for the album. He then took the initial recordings to his long-time collaborator Robin Waters, and the duo recruited additional musicians to flesh out the material while Waters began sorting through and mixing the reams of synths, vocals, string arrangements and samples that O’Brien had thrown together. And while seemingly being a hodgepodge creative process, the album thematically focuses on wide range of things from regret, acceptance, burning the candle at both ends, the joy and pleasure of leaving a party — and hell, the party scene — for a loved one and so on. Album single “Silver Bullet” further cemented O’Brien’s reputation for creating shimmering and atmospheric pop centered around lyrics that carefully examined a relationship and situation in which there was no easy answers, just increasing confusion and anxiety — and absolutely no one to save you or help.
Interestingly, MOOD EYES‘ latest single “You’re The Only One I Need Now,” is centered around an atmospheric and trippy production featuring shimmering and arpeggiated synths, O’Brien’s yearning yet ethereal vocals, thumping beats and a soaring hook — and while continuing in a similar vein as the album’s preceding singles, it’s a swooning, upbeat, heart-on-the-sleeve sort of love song written and sung from the perspective of an adult, who has grown from blind lust and desire to dealing with another person through shared values, respect, comfort and company. It’s a comforted sigh of relief in a difficult and cynical world. As O’Brien explains in press notes “I wanted to make a song that was simple enough to be taken as what it mostly is – an un-self conscious ode to that special person in your life – but also to allude to how you get there, from teenage desire to young adult drunken escapades to shared values and respect. The song is necessarily musically and lyrically uncomplicated but at the same time it’s textually quite dense. Similarly, the clip is in one way very direct with a person singing to camera most of the time but it also utilities complex and layered effects at its core.”