Review Summary: When life is making you lonely you can always go downtown.
It’s refreshing to avoid responsibility, putting your routine on pause in favour of the little things, whatever that means for you specifically. For some, it’s extra time with your loved ones, while for others it’s the act of doing nothing, without consequence and so on. If you think back, you were probably ecstatic when school got cancelled due to snow (a ‘snow day’... ahem). It was extra time with no obligations. In a way, the debut release As We Travel
from Toronto-based downtempo act Snowday is a record thriving not on what - or where - it needs to be, but the inimitable quality of contentment. You can’t always fake satisfaction, and Snowday are happy to wander as they please. Each track is celebratory, but casual, as no single idea is demanding enough to deter from the other possibilities around the corner. It’s like visiting a carnival with no lineups; you’re able to explore without itineraries, thriving on accumulative little experiences. This is just a way to explain how As We Travel
manages to be diverse, relaxed, and effortlessly satisfying. It reminds me of afternoons where we - a loved one and I - didn’t even need to reflect, spending the entire car ride in silence as nothing needed to be said. In hindsight it’s sort of poignant, as it reminds me of something I haven’t felt since God knows when.
This ties into As We Travel
significantly, as beneath the carefree vibe of downtempo exists a hint of longing. Depending on your perspective, you could view it as one big facade. As a habit, I tend to avoid speculation of ‘intent’, as it’s often the end result that should carry more weight than the underlying motivation. Still, it can cast things in a different light, and this kind of contradicts my theory of contentment, suggesting Snowday are seeking escapism through their music. What I’m trying to say is that As We Travel
isn’t an album for a specific time or place. Whether you’re looking for music to complement your untroubled mornings, or be the soundtrack to your dissatisfaction, Snowday know how to engage you. Every track is rife with mellow beats and soothing textures, yet features a wide array of experimentation to captivate you however you see fit. They have a keen sense of awareness; none of the tracks overstay their welcome, and they easily fill empty spaces.
While many similar musicians tack on assorted synths and effects to the point of convolution, Snowday’s compositions are rich and detailed underneath, with each subtlety blended perfectly. “Alaskan Cabins” takes deep, reinvigorating breaths while hushed vocals sway with claptraps and lush instrumentals. “A Lone Stone” features somber piano alongside rolling woodblocks and drifting overtones. When the instruments subside, if only for a moment, the spaces between notes are just as lovely, creating a deft pull and release. Vocalists Kaleigh Watts and Sammy Jackson grace “A Quiet Winter” and “Regeneration” respectively, complementing As We Travel
’s flow perfectly, breaking up the instrumental tracks aptly without being overbearing. Watts delivers a soothing, ethereal performance while Jackson is more commanding in what proves to be the album’s climax. Everything runs like clockwork, but more fluidly, like the softly melting pocket watches in the famous Dali painting. It’s surreal. As We Travel
is a composition completely at peace, but never one-dimensional or sedated; aloof and dreamy, it still manages to be thoroughly engaging. It’s time well spent - doing nothing at all.