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It wouldn’t be a stretch to say there’s likely been few debut albums as anticipated in modern punk circles as that of Pennsylvania band Daylight. Forming in late 2007, the next half decade saw the band release a string of EPs, as well as adhere to a relentless touring schedule – but no LP. Naturally, when Boston based label Run For Cover Records announced they would be releasing the band’s debut full-length studio album ‘Jar‘ in 2013, it’s little wonder excitement spread as widely and as rapidly as it did. Were the high expectations met?
The short answer is yes; and then some. Visceral, melodic and mature, ‘Jar‘ sees a refreshing step in Daylight‘s evolution as a band – rather than be an overbearing force, the band’s earlier melodic hardcore and punk rock roots take a subtle and complementary backseat. On ‘Jar‘, the band take their cues from the likes of Nirvana, Alice in Chains and Smashing Pumpkins, wearing a range of 90’s grunge and alternative rock influences proudly on their sleeves.
Album opener ‘Sponge’ is immediately attention-grabbing – Abrasive, punchy ‘Bullet with Butterfly Wings’-esque guitar and rhythms along reverb-drenched vocals are complemented by smooth melodic hooks. As the album progresses, the band seamlessly skirt the edges between dark and catchy. ‘Life in a Jar’ and ‘Youngest Daughter’ are almost atmospheric in the way they explore heavy, desolate sonic planes with a sense of agony, the former’s opening guitarwork instantly reminiscent of Pearl Jam. By contrast, ‘Crawl’ and ‘In On It’ feature far catchier guitar work, alongside memorable, anthemic choruses. ‘Hole in the Ground’ is slow and reflective – clean guitar chords and strings replacing heavily distorted riffs. This kind of diversity while maintaining cohesive vision makes ‘Jar‘ refreshing, and assures an engaging listen.
Lyrically, the album is as desperately bleak as one might imagine – “My tongue is bleeding red from all the things I can’t say / My hands are clawing at the dirt to dig up anything. / I can’t say I didn’t wish for this before. / I’m ashamed. I don’t deserve to be here anymore”. It feels like there’s a progression in this department too – a sense of youthful angst is replaced by desperate melancholia.
Production-wise, the album is rock solid. Producer Will Yip (Balance and Composure, Title Fight, Turnover) served as a recording engineer on the band’s 2012 EP ‘The Difference Between Good and Bad Dreams‘, but takes the full helm on ‘Jar‘. Everything sounds fully fleshed out and dynamic, without sacrificing energy or authenticity. Refined, slick, sure – but by no means artificial.
One could logically equate the evolution and maturity found on ‘Jar’ to that of the last efforts from Title Fight and labelmates Basement with most recent albums ‘Floral Green’ and ‘Colourmeinkindness’, respectively. The band hold onto the accessible catchiness, the driven, energetic passion and sombre lyrical content of their prior releases – kicking each up a notch as well as exploring a sound largely ignored in contemporary punk. In doing so, they’ve released of the most captivating records of the year thus far.
2. Life in a Jar
3. Outside of Me
6. Last October
7. Youngest Daughter
9. No One’s Deserving
10. Hole in the Ground
11. In on It
12. Around the Railing