A Sunny Day in Glasgow - Sea When Absent (4 stars)

A Sunny Day in Glasgow - Sea When Absent

Most complete record to date from dream pop band offers welcome sense of adventurousness in an often uniform genre

(Lefse)

A Sunny Day in Glasgow (with band members from Philadelphia, Sydney and Brooklyn, but not Glasgow) have always tackled the hazy sinews of dream pop in a more destructive fashion than most of their peers. The collective's worldwide geographical spread and remote recording processes are reflected in the shifting collage style of their songs. Their marauding totemic rhythms emerge from a jumble of scorched keys, moonbeam basslines and disembodied voices swirling together into an ambience which can be heavy or unusually joyous. They’ve always offered a welcome sense of adventurousness in a fairly uniform genre.

This fourth album marks their first written and recorded in a studio as a full band rather than being largely written by founder Ben Daniels and recorded in fragments. Through this, they've managed to retain their intrepid edge while also recalibrating the pop / dream balance of their sound; the finished product sounding like a nebulous road trip through transient pop modes. Their roots in maximalist ambience are still present (‘Crushin'’), but they also perfect grandiose brass-adorned chamber pop (‘The Body, It Bends’), sculpt-twisted refractions of 80s synth pop (‘Oh, I'm A Wrecker’), renderings of modern stadium-pop anthems mangled sweetly out of focus (‘Golden Wave’), and allow vocalists Jen Goma and Anne Fredrickson to excel by edging toward slippery alt. R&B soulfulness (‘Never Nothing’).

Their vocals are more important than ever as the band's trusted wall of reverb has been relegated in stature and now only swallows the occasional carefully placed guitar riff or electro-static build-up. In this middle ground, ASDIG really find their groove as the album flits between dynamic mashup and woozy comedown. It’s a confident step forward for the group, and certainly their most thoughtful release to date – the more collaborative recording process balancing their melodic sensibilities and experimental edge in a way that enhances rather than overwhelms the songs. By some distance their most complete record to date; their moments of brilliance are no longer as rare as an actual sunny day in Glasgow.

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