Saturday, August 16, 2014

Hello Memory (Little Daylight, 2014)

Little Daylight Hello Memory Cover

Brooklyn-based synthpop group Little Daylight’s 2014 debut LP, Hello Memory, is one of this summer’s highlights.

The trio of Nikki Taylor, Matt Lewkowicz, and Eric Zeiler formed Little Daylight two years ago, taking their name from the George MacDonald fairy tale, and started out remixing tracks by other electro-pop artists, including Passion Pit, St. Lucia, and Niki and the Dove. In 2013, they released their first EP, Tunnel Vision, an impressive and thoughtfully put-together collection of catchy tunes. Their talent for deconstruction and reconstruction as electronic remixers informed even their originals, including my favorite track off the EP, “Restart,” which, as the members tell it, began life as an accidentally reversed piece of another song they were writing. Tunnel Vision was also one of those albums that told a story. Taken in context, “Restart” is clearly the second of two parts, following “Treelines,” which is contemplative, anticipating the driving action of “Restart,” which, in my opinion, would be a great soundtrack to accompany, say, the climactic stage of a racing video game. And the closing track on Tunnel Vision, “Name in Lights,” would be a great cooldown song to accompany a victory lap or end credits sequence.

The band’s self-produced LP, Hello Memory, continues to show off the trio’s strengths. Together with lead single “Overdose,” the only song that reappears from Tunnel Vision, the nine new tracks on the album are synthpop distilled, powered by end-to-end hooks, relatable lyrics, and Taylor’s enchanting vocals. And, like Tunnel Vision, though this time twice as full, it contains a narrative arc. All its tracks are individually catchy, but, taken as whole, Hello Memory is a coming-of-age chronicle. Even as it maintains a consistent sound and upbeat attitude throughout, it somehow manages to capture the highs and lows of summer, opening with the idealistic “My Life,” which could serve as a prologue. The middle of the album features romantic throwbacks “Love Stories and “Mona Lisa,” before things slow down with the wistful and dreamy “Be Long.” A standout toward the end is the more mature but still optimistic “No One Else But You,” featuring more of a rock sound along with a guest appearance by Atlas Genius. When it’s all over, you can loop back again to “My Life,” which, on a second listen, takes on the character of a reflective framing device for the rest of the album.

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Little Daylight will be playing in San Diego this Tuesday night, August 19, 2014, in the Voodoo Room at the House of Blues.

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