The Darling Suns presents a new single, "Afterglow," Saturday at Chicago's Cubby Bear.

Premiere: The Darling Suns’ ‘Afterglow’ a release from the gloomy and grim

Art isn’t easy. Except when it is … apparently. 

Following up this summer’s album “Midnight Feelings,” West suburban indie-folk band The Darling Suns — Rob Krause, John Stenger, Lindsey Ward, Charlie Dresser and new bassist Zach Kidder — sidestepped the usual writing process for the release of the new single, “Afterglow,” out Saturday.

“Charlie, John and another friend, we were just jamming in the studio, working some things out, when I brought them the idea for ‘Afterglow,’” Krause, the band’s frontman and lead songwriter, said. Within 20 minutes they had formulated a good idea for where they wanted to go with it, and since they were already in a studio, they hit record. “I have this really cool demo session of us playing it for the first time ever.” 

“We felt some magic in the room that night,” he said, “so we decided, ‘Let’s just run with it.’” The band re-created a piece as close as possible to that first play-through for the released recording.

While the full-length “Midnight Feelings” let listeners wade through the more tumultuous pools of Krause’s brain, “Afterglow” is the light at the end of that subterranean tunnel. 

“I was writing it kind of in this weird place where everything seems to be going really good, but I’m also feeling pretty stagnant,” Krause said. “The song is kind of a release. I talk about how I was struggling in the verses, but when the chorus rolls around it breaks free, this escape into this place where I can kinda let go and be free, be myself. I think I was experiencing a lot of that at the time when I was writing that.”

“‘Midnight Feelings’ was definitely a change for us as a band,” Krause said. “It was a little more thoughtful and thought-provoking. More of a songwriter album.” 

LISTEN UP: The Darling Suns on the Aux Populi podcast

The album signalled a transition for the band into heavier, darker themes. “Afterglow” is still a conduit for The Darling Suns’ signature sound — heartfelt and folksy rock — but it also channels a dreamier, shoegaze vibe, as if harnessing memories of hazy summer days.  

“The lyrics are not very happy,” Krause said, “but the song keeps it happy and exciting. It showcases a little bit more the sound that we’re developing, going for.”

“Afterglow” gets its first public performance when the band plays Cubby Bear Saturday, Nov. 23, with Mike Mains & the Branches and Chicago’s Molehill and The Burst and Bloom. 

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Mike Mains & the Branches with Molehill, The Darling Suns, The Burst and Bloom

When: 7 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 23

Where: Cubby Bear, 1059 W. Addison St., Chicago

Tickets: $15; (773) 327-1662 or cubbybear.com

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