When I think German music, the first thing that comes to mind is Kraftwerk, followed shortly by small band beer hall music thanks to my brief time in Berlin last summer. Finding a product of the less recognised rock scene via a group chat (set up by Dream Wife, of all people), proved a pleasant and intriguing surprise. Having spent the last two years rising through the Frankfurt scene, Dark Ruby are now bringing a bundle of bangers forged in their live show to record.
Right from the off, it’s clear that Dark Ruby have no intention of holding back. The frenetic riffing of opener ‘Taking My Space’ makes the bands punk influences as clearly as singer Valeska’s commanding vocal style calls back to the Riot Grrl movement of the 1990s. It matches thematically, too, with the chorus refrain “I’m taking my space / are you ready / get out of my way” as a clear call to the slowly increasing recognition of female artists across the music industry.
The title track is probably my favourite on the EP. Opening with drums and palm-muted guitar straight out of a Green Day track, it quickly comes to embody all those pop-punk elements that were my original gateway into music. As the instrumentation takes off into the chorus, so too does the vocal performance, “I’m not your cure, I’m not your angel, I’m not yours” being belted with impressive power. As the track draws to an end, elements of heaver genres are brought in, closing with a borderline thrash-metal crescendo of blast beats and shredding guitars.
‘Black-Eyed Monster’ brings this energy to its peak, a breakneck just-under-2 msomenutes of careening chaos. You’re too busy imagining the mosh pit to really ruminate on the subtleties of the tune, though I can assure you it has some suitably moody musings on the darkness hiding within oneself. The 1:12 mark also heralds the arrival of the only guitar solo on the EP. I’m happy to report that it is of the sort of unpretentiousness that you really need in a good punk track, mostly small repeated bends and blues licks, twisted to a meaner purpose than originally intended.
The EP’s closer ‘Losing My Mind’ brings quite the change of pace, wrapping proceedings up much more gently than they began. More than just closing the EP, it feels like a conclusion to this whole year, summing up how many of us have doubtless felt throughout this shitshow – “Am I feeling good or is this just a manic episode”. As far as soft rock ballads go, I really can’t complain about this one, though it does seem out of place against the backdrop of intense energy that preceded it.
Given I had no clue what to expect going into Cure, I’ve come out pleasantly surprised. For all its in-your-face energy and apparent simplicity, I feel as though there is a spark of something intangible in this collection of songs that makes it stand apart from the sea of up-and-coming punk and alt-rock acts. Cure has an ability to grab the attention that you rarely find while trawling endless Bandcamp recommendations.
Cure releases everywhere on December 4th, with pre-orders available now on Dark Ruby’s Bandcamp.