Deserves to catapult them into indie pop’s premier league.
Jaime Gill 2011-03-04
When Sweden’s Those Dancing Days first shimmied across the Northern Sea at the start of 2008, they were chiefly noted for extreme youth (some were still schoolgirls), the alluring voice of Linnea Jönsson, a breathlessly pretty single in Hitten and a sweetly shambling debut album that didn’t quite live up to that song's potential. Given their status as one-hit wonders, taking two-and-a-half years to release a follow-up risked losing the band all momentum (remember Black Kids?). But it’s been a risk worth taking: Daydreams & Nightmares deserves to catapult them into indie pop’s premier league.
On the first few listens, the album is less immediate than the debut, but patience reveals it to be richer, more eclectic and far more satisfying. They can still sound deliciously Spector-esque – as when Dream About Me marries Jönsson’s sumptuous melody to the band’s deep, percussive instrumentation - but they add nervy new wave rhythms, greedy helpings of synth and vastly improved performances by all the players. Listening to the lovely Help Me Close My Eyes, with its rippling rhythm and deft shifts in pace, you can hear how much the years of touring have tightened them musically.
Their hard work is rewarded on the gorgeous I’ll Be Yours, its propulsive bass and sighing synths rushing the listener into the arms of a soar-away chorus. If it weren’t for Jönsson’s creamy vocal, this could be The Cure at their giddy mid-80s peak. Sonically, Can’t Find Entrance is tougher and tauter, but just as hard to resist, while the fidgety, melancholy Keep Me in Your Pocket is so doe-eyed vulnerable it would soften Stalin’s stony heart.
Lyrically, Jönsson neurotically picks at the theme of new love, with the musical mood swings and sudden outbursts of intensity to match. A song as bruising as I Know Where You Live pt 2 is swiftly followed by the dreamy reverie of One Day Forever, an entrancingly intimate duet with The Maccabees’ Orlando Weeks. There are a couple of lesser moments – notably the listless When We Fade Away – but mostly Daydreams & Nightmares bristles with the restless invention and sheer passion of youth and intelligence. Older people may find themselves admiring it, envying it or both; the young should just adore it.