Review Summary: dream pop with balls
During the hours spent with this LP I’m reminded vividly of Wild Nothing’s 2012 opus, Nocturne
. Not in sound beyond a superficial level - a guitar tone here, a vocal effect there - so much as spirit; the near-identical feelings both works arouse within. The latter saw Jack Tatum navigate his own little world of intimate affairs concerning, among other things, love, longing, isolation and substance abuse via sharp guitar and synth hooks, utterly oblivious to the presence of his audience. His wide-eyed lack of self-awareness gave those songs an extremely personal, occasionally intrusive feel akin to reading a stolen diary. Here the boy/girl vocal duo Jeff Kandefer and Elizabeth Gimbrone are comparatively guarded. Wary of prying ears pressed to their window, they drench their voices in reverb and shove them down in the mix, favouring sonic imagery over lyrical transparency to tell the bulk of their stories. The sentiments, however, are the same. Drowned in a Sea of Sound
viewed through a Vaseline-smeared lens; two records sharing one heart. Sister albums, if you will. Two sides of the same shimmering coin.
At this point there aren’t many stones left unturned within the dream pop/shoegaze realm and The Daysleepers wear their influences proudly on their collective sleeve; both the obvious and the not-so-much (‘Release the Kraken’, for instance, bears more than a passing resemblance to Blue Öyster Cult’s ‘Don’t Fear the Reaper’). The key then is refinement and execution, and that’s where they excel. The rhythm section’s muscular agility gives this music the structural foundation it needs to allow the lush guitar, vocal and synth textures to roam where they will. Indeed, it’s the meaty low end that occupies the driver’s seat for most of the album’s duration. Weak links? None here. Each track is crawling with earworms, enjoyable alone and out of context. Together though, they become another beast entirely. I’m somewhat reluctant to employ the all too obvious aquatic metaphor but it’s difficult to envisage a more apt moniker for this body of work than the one it already bears. The enormous rolling groove that propels instrumental gem ‘Space Whale Migration’ in particular hints at untold mystery and darkness within its depths. This is a record equally capable of carrying you gently in its idle current (‘Summerdreamer’) as it is of dumping you against its jagged rocks (‘Tiger in the Sea’). Much like the ocean itself, Drowned in a Sea of Sound
is beautiful, immersive and powerful.