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Listening to “Night Is Dark,” one is instantly transported back to the good old days of late ’80s/early ‘90s British pop. The guitars jangle and chime like those of Johnny Marr of The Smiths or Ride’s Andy Bell and Mark Gardener, the vocals have the swooning, whispery quality of Slowdive’s Neil Halsted or Chapterhouse’s Andrew Sheriff, and the melody is as indelible as the best work of any of those bands.
Exactly how it got recorded by a 20-year old native of the Dominican Republic named Andrés Pichardo is anyone’s guess. Didn’t anyone tell Pichardo that the citizens of his neck of the woods were supposed to be playing reggae or calypso or some other brand of sunny Caribbean music, and not wistful pop reminiscent of the English music scene of the year he was born?
Yet shoegazing pop is exactly what Pichardo ended up recording under the name Grand Resort after departing the sunny tropics in favor of the northerly latitudes of Boston, eventually settling in Brooklyn. Once he traded endless summer and ocean breezes for concrete jungles and bleak winters, he got down to the business of crafting exquisite dream-pop alone in the bedroom of his apartment and somehow making it sound like a full band in a high tech studio.
Yet, despite its gloomy title, “Night Is Dark” shows that while you can take the boy out of the Caribbean, you can’t completely take the Caribbean out of the boy. The song has a sunny, joyous vibe more akin to the average calypso track than to the autumnal moodiness of most of the shoegazers it draws its inspiration from. It’s the sound of a genre raising its eyes from its feet and noticing that the sun is warm and the breeze is cool and, as the old Slowdive song noted, it’s blue skied an’ cleared overhead.