Review Summary: Ah, the debut album...
Rise Records has made some surprisingly good signings in the past year or so. With bands like Cheap Girls, Hot Water Music, and now New York’s Daytrader, the label is slowly restoring its credibility that has been tainted due to an excess of generic, overproduced metalcore (Risecore) acts. Though Daytrader’s Rise Records debut displays a disappointing refinement of the band’s edgy sound, Twelve Years
still bombards the listener with a barrage of catchy hooks, featuring one of the best vocal performances of 2012 thus far. Yes, the band’s punk elements have been dialed back to make way for a more direct alternative rock sound, but Daytrader still manage to pack a decent-sized punch thanks to crystal clear production on behalf of Mike Sapone (Crime in Stereo, Brand New, Taking Back Sunday).
Choruses are something Daytrader have always done well. “Kill My Compass,” for example, from their Last Days of Rome
EP, could easily garner radio airtime with a bit of exposure. Such an outright use of chorus-based song structure may be considered to be “bold” within the realm of today’s punk scene, but hooks have become a staple essential to Daytrader’s songwriting. “Dead Friends,” the album’s first track, exhibits this perfectly, through vocalist Tym’s unabashed choral announcement of, “Don’t you ever say, we’re destined to be great.” Despite a somewhat plodding intro, the track gets the ball rolling effectively, with dissonant guitar lines and ample feedback laced throughout.
Tracks two and three further emphasize Daytrader’s strong, vocal-centric songwriting, but also unfortunately set the bar a bit too high for the rest of the album to live up to. “If You Need It” is a shamelessly poppy but wholly enjoyable alt-rock affair, and “Firebreather” follows as an example of a truly fleshed-out Daytrader track. Benefitting from Sapone’s studio magic, the drums and bass lay down a powerful foundation for Tym’s eloquent, winding vocal delivery. Unsurprisingly, these were the first three tracks to be released off the album; they leave quite an impression, encompassing the best of Daytrader’s elements and showcasing exactly what made Last Days of Rome
Tracks like “Skin & Bones” and “Silver Graves,” however, seem stifled, unable to reach their full potential and simply lacking the drive to make an impression. Instead of being upbeat punk anthems or slow burning emo tracks, they awkwardly straddle the line between the two genres and play at a leisurely pace, unable to decide whether to speed up or slow down. At times, downright strange compositional choices hinder the otherwise outstanding vocal performance, and leave listeners scratching their heads, unsure of what exactly the band was trying to accomplish. The obligatory acoustic track, “Heard It in a Song,” does nothing but prolong the album’s underwhelming second half. That being said, Daytrader still demonstrate brief moments of excellence, ending the album on the strongest note possible with “Letter to a Former Lover,” an emotional retrospective of a past relationship that allows Tym to shine through once again in the vocal department.
Ultimately, Daytrader’s debut full length simply does not feel like one; there are several outstanding tracks, but just as many forgettable ones that create too much of a noticeable contrast for the album to be cohesive. Certain songs would be better represented on a five or six track EP without the excess of the others weighing them down. Twelve Years
makes one thing obvious: putting out a full length is hard. However, as a band that has proven (in only a short time) to be more than capable of writing mature yet catchy music, Daytrader still have what it takes to release a classic album someday if they can manage to iron out their inconsistencies.