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Friday, December 19, 2014

Music Review: Little Daylight's album catchy, but doesn't excite

Electronic vibes channeled straight from the ‘80s find a fresh revival with Little Daylight’s first full-length release, aptly titled “Hello Memory.”

The hooks on some of the tracks of this album are intriguingly misleading. The well-produced album has quite a few things going for it: quality musicians, hooks and beats that curl in close to the listener and a vocalist whose control and range hints at a lot of undiscovered talent.

The problem, though, is the content of the songs. It’s as though Little Daylight stole a teenage girl’s diary and set the entire thing to music.

“Overdose” is another catchy, upbeat synth pop song. It’s a dark subject masquerading as a love song, but it is underwhelming at best. Barely veiled analogies like “Need you like a drug/you keep me wanting/oh oh I come undone” and “You’re my favorite high” weaving in and out of the toe-tapping tune may leave listeners unsure about what exactly they’re supposed to feel.

The album’s strongest track, “Siren Song,” is infectious and upbeat from beginning to end. The craftsmanship is impeccable, with a voice layering that adds depth to the track. The guitars and synthesizers mix to perfection.

“Mona Lisa” shows the range of Little Daylight’s approaches to each song writing style. This effort is so Top 40 it could easily have a spot on “Glee.” The pop hook seems to come from a paint-by-numbers writing approach that is disappointing after hearing the previous two excellent tracks.

“Nothing to Lose” brings the album back to an upbeat tempo. The sadness of the previous track, “Be Long,” needed this structure as an uplifting relief. The synthesizer comes in fast like a breath of fresh air and jolts the listener into a wavelike atmosphere. The chorus features some great echo voice effects and sounds like a “Yeah Yeah Yeahs”-inspired song. This track features some of that cool New York-inspired punk synth.

The final song, “Never Go Back,” is a proper album closer with a slow synth start and then — surprise! — a great club-like atmosphere. If the band had chosen to take this route for more songs on this album, it would’ve been a stronger record. Taking a risk and cutting the safety net of pop choruses worked well.

On a scale of 1 to 10, “Hello Memory” is a strong 5 to a light 6. With a bit more seasoning, Little Daylight has an opportunity to become huge.

Stephen Montoya is culture editor for the Daily Lobo. He can be reached at culture@dailylobo.com or on Twitter @StephenMontoya9.