Marvelous Darlings / Actual Water / Get Nuns Sneaky Dee's, Toronto ON January 26

Marvelous Darlings / Actual Water / Get Nuns Sneaky Dee's, Toronto ON January 26
Making a triumphant return to the stage after nearly four years, the much-missed Marvelous Darlings tried to slip in a one-off, and then sneak back quietly into the annals of legend. But as word spreads fast these days, and hearty hooks are often hard to come by in the glut of sad-eyed millionaire easy listening troubadours, a raucous and appreciative crowd were on hand to welcome them home.

After the openers Get Nuns, who played violent sweat rock as led by a young Rip Taylor, and the sturdy, Libertines-like Actual Water, the Darlings played nearly their entire brief oeuvre, which can be conveniently located on their recently released singles compilation, Single Life. The innate cleverness here is that concerts sound awesome when you play all the hits, and while that term may be particularly relative in this case, Marvelous Darlings, by the virtue of the methodical issue of their material, seven-inch by seven-inch, have nothing but hits. Digested as tiny morsels, the band's breathtakingly catchy songs are easy to obsess over and lend themselves to infinite repeat.

Anchored by the impeccable lead vocals of Ben Cook, a full-time musical purveyor also doing duty in Fucked Up, the Bitters and Young Governor, Marvelous Darlings captured a perfect pop urgency with a Springsteen-esque profundity not usually evinced well within this genre. Cook and band manage to meld the two brilliantly, particularly on songs like "The Swords, the Streets" and "Teenage Targets," hitting the fun-times node dead-on while allowing the beer-tears to well up a touch while lamenting the little narratives of love and loss.

It was always a damn shame that Marvelous Darlings kept releasing such great, consistent singles without the opportunity to see them live, and now that the need has be satiated, it seems even more of shame that, with other projects on the go, this remarkable band may have stepped on stage for the last time. While there may be sunnier climes, more heady opportunities and brighter brass rings, gentlemen, take heed: This is your calling.