With Daybreaker, Nashville's Moon Taxi split the difference between jam bandery and catchy trad rock, and, with the help of consistently contemplative lyrics, create an inviting if not magnetic fourth long-player. Where Daybreaker excels is in tight but non-mechanical performances; it's their first album to be recorded as a band in the studio rather than piecemeal, and the results are refreshingly less proggy. It's also their first to be produced by someone outside of the group, namely Grammy winner Jacquire King (Kings of Leon, Dawes). Let's get this out of the way: There's no doubt that the record sounds good and that these guys can play. Lead singer Trevor Terndrup, whose voice approximates a mix of Kings of Leon's Caleb Followill and Maroon 5's Adam Levine, does big ("Who's to Say") and conversational ("Always") with equal ease. As for the songs, mostly middling tempos transport a variety of deceptively complex musical elements, from duo guitar solos to funk to Caribbean percussion and rhythms, under earnest melodies. The opening track, "Year Zero," teases arena-sized anthems with a big-chanting intro before settling quickly into moseying guitars and a wistful tune that delivers: "Wash away with the tide, or walk away right by my side." Meanwhile, "Domino" offers a hazy wall of sustained guitars and keyboards for an atmospheric, almost Brit rock-feeling ballad. Some livelier tracks include the sweeter "All Day All Night" ("I won't close my eyes without you even if I have to make it one more day") and the momentum-filled "Make Your Mind Up," which also serves up a spicy sax solo, though the album maintains a reflective tone throughout. In the end, Daybreaker is an easygoing outing for the band, one fans may cue up to enliven a rainy Sunday at home.
AllMusic Review by Marcy Donelson