Those Dancing Days - Daydreams and Nightmares

Something strange happens during Daydreams and Nightmares, the second album from Those Dancing Days. 'When We Fade Away' re-uses the unmistakable chord sequence from The Cure's 'Close To Me'. Nothing wrong with a little homage you might say. But 'Keep Me in Your Pocket', the very next track, lifts the beat and keyboard refrain from, you guessed it, 'Close To Me'. It's all very odd - and one has to guess deliberate - but is perhaps typical of an album that never quite find its feet or own sense of purpose.

For those charmed by the fiery garage pop of the Swedes' debut, hopes were high for more of the same. Leave the formula fiddling for album number three; prove those first little bursts of magic weren't a fluke and keep the 'We've always had a drum 'n bass influence' proclamations until the embers of inspiration begin to fade into the cold Scandinavian night. By that measure, initial spins are encouraging: the unmistakable pipes of Linnea Jönsson are, thanks to some old fashioned production values, front and centre; the rattling drums of Cissi Efraimsson, so central to initial success, continue their quest for world domination. But it takes a little while to get going: the restless 'Reaching Forward' is fine in its declaration ("There is more to life than this!") but a little non-descript as a first volley; 'I'll Be Yours' lyrically banal on top of the ringing, Altered Images guitars; 'Dream About Me' overly glossy, the saccharine chorus more at home on a minor league pop starlet's second album.

It's not until the grammar-wrangling 'Can't Find Entrance' that the spark genuinely returns and the ladies find a little of the va-va-voom that drove their initial work: "Gold turns to silver in my hands" as Jönsson pines over the purest Scando indie pop. A certain momentum is maintained from this point on, the Keith Moon rhythms of 'Fuckarias' especially introducing a little urgency to proceedings. The afore-mentioned Cure tributes are solid enough but seem strangely passive. Perhaps we're too used to a generation of more strident female artists but lines like "I won't cling to you like she does" on 'Keep Me in Your Pocket' are all a bit My Guy magazine, a sense that continues with 'I Know Where You Live' ("I will follow you at all times and all around."). A concluding duet with The Maccabees' Orlando Weeks brings things to a close with little fanfare.

And so the overall effect is a little deflating. Daydreams and Nightmares, far from being the yin/yang of life and love suggested by the title, is just a rather sappy collection of platitudes that rarely rises above middling. Only occasionally does it sound like it was made by people who are driven to make music - rather than be something they've accidentally found themselves doing. Those Dancing Days have all the elements in place (that name alone should tell you everything) but this is most certainly a mis-step, worryingly early in their career.



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