Archive for the ‘Day Ravies’ Category

Day Ravies — Liminal Zones

Tuesday, July 21st, 2015

Day Ravies’ 2013 debut album Tussle was one of the most promising new Australian shoegaze albums of the year. Its mix of Joy Division’s driving drums and angular guitar lines with shimmering dream pop and psychedelic rock was a memorable addition to the local shoegaze scene; matching, and in some cases even exceeding, the high standard set by similarly-inspired local acts like Summer Flake or Flyying Colours. Day Ravies differentiated themselves not only through their musical influences and technical proficiency, but also their sense of playfulness and musical experimentation. Their debut developed a spontaneous, exploratory type of sound, and a feeling of untapped potential; the free-floating promise of new development in unpredictable directions. It’s difficult to write a follow-up release to such an album, immediately strong and self-contained, but stretching out to something even better. But this month, Day Ravies did just that, releasing their second full-length album Liminal Zones. How does it compare to other recent dream pop and shoegaze releases? Does it live up to their earlier potential?

Opening tracks ‘Fake Beach’ and ‘Couple Days’ set the scene with jangly, shoegaze chord progressions over hypnotic guitar riffs and parallel bass lines, driven on by pounding drums. The songs are short and saccharine, with an undertone of darkness to them. So far, the sound is pretty much what you’d expect from their 2013 debut, with a couple of telling minor differences. First of all they sound a lot more confident in themselves and what they’re trying to achieve, and secondly, there’s a faintly audible electronic influence unique to the new album. But it’s really third track ‘This Side of The Fence’ where all the pieces start to come together, where a drum beat and synth melody similar to the opening strains of Joy Division’s ‘She’s Lost Control’ is matched with strange, psychedelic female vocals and reverb-soaked electric guitars. The drums are lo-fi, stuttering and electronic, reminiscent of the FM synth beats of Silent Shout–era The Knife, adding an unexpected new dimension to the music. Dream pop is a guitar genre ordinarily, so it’s interesting to see Day Ravies using elements of electronic art-pop to help them generate the atmosphere on their new release. It makes their songs sound really fresh and original, while at the same time maintaining the sort of energy and spontaneity that made the band so enjoyable in the first place.

The effect is even stronger on tracks like ‘Immaculate Escape’ and ‘March Comes Around’, where the digital elements are allowed to drive the songs forward and almost take the place of the guitars, creating this really novel hybrid of psychedelic post-punk and electronic pop, while at the same time never really straying too far from their traditional influences. They’re a bit like an edgier, more experimental version of Flyying Colours, and what they lack in genre purity they more than make up for with playfulness and sheer originality. And while their music sounds remarkably consistent here and self-contained, it still feels like there’s plenty of ground created here for further exploration in the future. Will they continue mixing FM synths with dream pop or go down a more electronic road? Will the references to 60’s psychedelic music, like the organ sounds in ‘Hackford Whizz’ or ‘Halfway Up A Hill’ take more precedence in a future album, or will they go for something else entirely? Their intentions are impossible to determine, but the album does show that they don’t intend to stop at recreating past successes. It lives up to the potential of their first release while creating even higher expectations for their albums still to come. It sounds like they haven’t hit their peak yet. The band is still rising, still trying to figure everything out, while at the same time being completely confident with where they are, and where they want to go.

With Liminal Zones, Day Ravies has achieved the improbable. They’ve managed not only to exceed the high expectations set by their debut album in innovation and technical quality, but also to set a new and more exciting standard on which this band, and others in its genre can be judged. This is high praise considering the strength of the competition, but this is by far the best new album of its type to come out in Australia this year. Liminal Zones is a landmark achievement. It should not be missed.

Liminal Zones is out now through Sonic Masala and Strange Pursuits.