Swedish pop-trio Daybehavior’s history stretches back over twenty years- their first album was released in 1996- but their album releases are far from regular. This is only their fourth, and their first since 2012. Listening to it, you can easily believe that this is due to long gestation periods in which the band are aiming for synthpop perfection- because they’re very close to achieving it.
From the bright opening chords and purposeful groove of opener “Burning Slowly” and onwards, this is timeless synthpop work, the kind that was born in the 1980’s, sonically perfected in the 90’s, but which now exists outside musical time. It’s rarely concerned with modern pop techniques or standards, and revels in the joy of synth chords, drum machines, and catchy verse-chorus female vocals that, being from Sweden, are inevitably excellent. There’s something in Swedish DNA that makes them better at writing choruses than anyone else, and it’s on display here.
The single “Tears That Dry”- for which the YouTube video is available now- is a strong example of what to expect. Other highlights include the extremely motorway-friendly “Driving In My Car”, and coincidentally, and the mostly-spoken nostalgia of faintly more industrial-sounding “It All Started With A Train”. The most-hummable-hours-after-you’ve-heard-it-melody award has to go to the utterly dreamy, Xenomania-esque “Change”- the YouTube video for which is now more than four years old, showing again what a long birthing period this album has had.
If I were deliberately trying to find fault, I might suggest that across 12 tracks, there’s a slight shortage of variety. Tracks like “Solitude” and “A Perfect Day” give you standard slow ballad numbers, complete with plenty of emotive synth-strings, but it still feels quite conventional and they are the album’s weak points- as though it’s a contractual obligation that every album is obliged to have a ballad, rather than something they really wanted to do. When each track is followed by a thumping 4/4 beat and rolling bass, it’s an energising relief. There’s no real sign of the band pushing the boat out and trying something genuinely different or experimental. This is all comfort zone stuff, clearly- though for many fans I expect that’s precisely what they would want, especially so long after the last new material.
The list of famous acts who you could cite in a “recommend if you like” list is almost too extensive to make it worth attempting. There are shades of OMD, and more than a little bit of Pet Shop Boys. The wistful breathiness of the vocals in tracks like “Driving In My Car” is sometimes quite Saint Etienne-y.
This is absolutely premium Swedish synthpop. It’s a touch weak in the ballads but it’s more than made up for by some stomping singalong tunes.