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Album review

Those Dancing Days

Like a statement of intent, the opening track ‘Reaching Forward’ of the new Those Dancing Days album begins with a terrifyingly electro synth line, a tom-heavy drum beat, and a consistent indie guitar vamp, all building the image in the mind’s eye of a young band of heroes about to begin a dangerous voyage, but prepared for what they might face, armed with the will to defeat all who oppose them.
It’s fun to juxtapose this with the adorable Swedish all-girl band that makes the music. If there was ever a band that should have its own brand of plush dolls, the Stockholm-based quintet would be the choice. They could have their own Saturday morning cartoon show to promote the dolls to kids, and the theme song for the show would be the candyfloss-sweet second track of the album ‘I’ll Be Yours’ with its epic positivity and sing-along chorus. Next is the S Club 7/All Saints-esque 90s pop tune ‘Dream About Me’. Through the first half of the album the lead guitar effects board is clearly set to ‘The Cure’, and the famous chorus/reverb/delay combo is exploited to its full extent. It’s only later that the guitar tone becomes a little rockier.
The lyrics take centre with ‘Help Me Close My Eyes’, an environmental protest tune, and the hi-hat beated ‘Can’t Find the Entrance’, all about frustration. The latter is quintessential of the straightforward pop sensibilities that the band tend to cling to throughout the album. These are followed by the somewhat punky ‘Fuckarias’ [is that a swear? I don’t know] with its angry-insect synth sound and feedback screams.
The album, titled ‘Daydreams and Nightmares’, is the second by the band, the follow-up to their 2008 debut ‘In Our Space Hero Suits’. The idea was clearly to make a slightly more mature album, but the joy in this album is the light-hearted joy and assumed naiveté, and the less tongue-in-cheek emotional or darker tunes like ‘Forest of Love’ and ‘When We Fade’, do fall a little flat, as the band try to mine a depth that isn’t really there. They pick it back up again, though, with the upbeat clap-along track ‘Keep Me In Your Pocket’ and relentless catchiness of stalker-themed ‘I Know Where You Live’.
The album closes with ‘One Day Forever’ on the sort of oddball indie-pop we expect from acts like The Maccabees. It’s fitting, then, that Orlando Weeks from The Maccabees duets on the track.
The voyage that the band set out to achieve in the first track is subtly apparent in the flow of the album, and while they didn’t quite challenge themselves to quite the extent they seemed to believe they would, this is definitely a step forward for the group, and showcases a few different directions they could take their music next. Personally, I’m hoping they keep writing guitar-pop songs to dance to, because I’m hoping to experience more of those dancing days…