Some fans might miss the brash and fiercely adolescent sound of their first album, but fans growing up alongside them will relate to the more complex arrangements and introspective themes. Safe to Say are clearly making a statement here that they're serious about their music and want it to be resilient. Down in the Dark contains the hallmarks of a "serious" rock album — a cappella interludes, longer songs with gradual builds and quiet breaks — and they're employed with deliberation that ensures they never feel gimmicky.
Lyrically, Down in the Dark confronts transience, change and passing time; it's an album about getting older and losing people and things along the way. The shift towards maturity should win over fans of Brand New, as "Ultra Blue," "Slip" and the album's best song, "Tangerine," all evoke the Long Island post-emo icons, with overlapping and echoing vocals and steady screaming builds.
The album's pacing is one of Down in the Dark's greatest strengths. "Afterglow" is fast and poppy reprieve from the pervasive feeling of loss here, bringing the album back up from the simmering lull of "Louver." After an upbeat beginning, the album ends on a decidedly quiet note; "Hiraeth" and "In a Room" are really quite beautiful, and demonstrate the band's comfortable grip on melody.
A clean transition from pop punk to alternative, Down in the Dark is an album worthy of respect from old and new fans alike. (New Damage)