Enigma Magazine

Chattanooga, Tennessee

Thomas Martin

October 27, 2005


New Music Reviews
Chris McKay & The Critical Darlings
C’mon, Accept Your Joy!



Chris McKay & The Critical Darlings slap together some fresh pop and some sloppy good times rock. The new ten track album is situated where every good pop record should be situated, in sour relationships and introspectives.

The production is even and engaging. Sometimes bright and shimmery, sometimes jumpy and sporadic, the overall effect is “built for college radio.” And the record definitely has underground potential. Lead singer Chris McKay barks out a sarcastic smearing tone which suits the mood of the music well. The guitars are exceptional as well as the arrangements. Layers of acoustic guitar and synth-based keys meld well with phased out vocals. The hooks are big and up front.

Chris McKay & The Critical Darlings can pour on the bar rock and keep the listener involved. The arrangements and genres mix wildly. The Stonesy effect of “Sometimes I’m Sam” hits roots and the jabbing guitar work of “Phony” leans on a J. Mascis influence. But an obvious amount of editing took place because the songs belong together.

If Chris McKay & The Critical Darlings venture into the near modern pop-punk which they sometimes evoke, they may be lost. Keep riffing in the classic sense with the classic themes and all is well.