Day for Night
Day for Night
ere this 1960, we’d grant this missive to vocalist Kali Holloway: Get thee to the Brill Building. Your talents are being piddled away. Fetch yourself one of them ubiquitous, balding, cigar-chomping record producers. Bury your songwriting scratch pad. Nod your head in agreement when said producer details the little-symphonies-for-the-kids approach that will accent your sugary, robust voice: tumbling piano triplets, a steady rumble of drums, string arrangements of Wagnerian grandeur.
But alas, we’re far removed from the mascara-laden, bee-hived vamp days of the girl group era, when a gift such as Holloway’s was successfully cosseted and cultivated, and so the Affair vocalist is left to her own devices. Currently that’s Day for Night, a New York-based trio that lifts its moniker from a cinematic technique used to simulate night scenes. And yes, owing to all sorts of cleverness, band name does parallel band sound: a shoegaze-lite / grunge entanglement that conflates sunrise lushness with midnight smokiness.
Clawing for the surface and sweet breath, beneath all the ash-thick instrumentation, lies an entombed Holloway. And that’s the cardinal sin committed by Day for Night. Despite its flaws, the Affair’s Yes Yes to You always put the emphasis on Holloway: her instantly memorable, nymph-like yodel and her teenaged tales of apple-cheeked affection. Oh, and did we mention that instantly memorable voice? The highlights were many, from “Tim’s Girl,” where Holloway squeaks like fingers sliding on guitar strings, to the bridge in “Dead Letters,” her cracking voice the sound of one-hundred Pixy Stix being snapped in half.
On EP’s opener, “Silver Beach,” Holloway struggles to be heard over the bombast: namely the lumbering percussion and sludgy, bare-chested riffing lifted straight from Soundgarden’s “Birth Ritual.” The Affair’s effortless drumming and vanilla synth lines never outshined Holloway in such a manner. Listen closely and one does descry a patented, Holloway hiccup, but even these feel slightly artificial: the lead-in to the song’s chorus springing with lasery, effects-enhanced “Ohs.”
“The Mess We’re In” finds the vocalist once again exploring boy-girl tumbling, but while past efforts found her kissing and telling, here she settles for darker themes, shoveling the dirt on a current fling: “Can you see the end? / From right where we stand?” The flat guitar lines and plodding, tom-heavy drumming again do little to enhance the mood.
“Badlands” offers more luminous textures—Keith Ehrlich’s guitars like strands of firefly-yellow lights and the closest thing the EP offers in terms of a hook—but even this slice of 4AD posing can’t save what’s a rather perfunctory debut.
After the power pop goodness of Yes Yes to You, Day for Night is a disappointing, wayward mess from one of today’s most unique singing voices.