Those Dancing Days

Daydreams & Nightmares

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The all-girl Swedish pop band Those Dancing Days garnered early career buzz with a few sugary-sweet, lo-fi EPs and a shambolically listenable debut, 2008's In Our Space Hero Suits. The band's 2011 sophomore follow-up, Daydreams & Nightmares, while retaining the group's essential Swedish pop knack for endless melodies, is anything but lo-fi. Shedding any misconception that the band lacks chops, Daydreams & Nightmares is a glossy, accomplished '80s-influenced dance-rock and post-punk album that showcases lead vocalist Linea Jonsson's powerful, sexy croon. Compulsively romantic, gorgeously produced, and yet somehow still experimental, these tracks grab you with layers of melody and Jonsson's positive, yearning emotional uplift that registers both lyrically and vocally. From the album's cinematic, synth-driven opening cut "Reaching Forward" to the dreamy, shimmery ballad "When We Fade Away" and the muscular, aggressive mid-album anthem "Fuckarias," Daydreams & Nightmares is driving like a rock record, slick like an electro-pop record, yet still really, really intimate. Furthermore, to call the track "I'll Be Yours" a giddy, perfect-in-every-way instant pop hit is to underplay that it is an absolutely crystalline, satiating, abundantly addictive pop moment that registers not just as a great love song, but as the feeling of being in love itself. This is due in no small part to the level of songcraft and production Those Dancing Days showcase here. Every instrument is playing something that sticks in your head and producer Patrick Berger has helped the band capture each song with a sympathetic and spot-on ear for how this material -- material that brings to mind the best work of such contemporaries as the Killers, Rihanna, and the xx -- should sound. By the time you get to such latter-album tracks as the sparkling, rambunctious anthem "Keep Me in Your Pocket" and the unexpected boy/girl duet "One Day Forever" (featuring the Maccabees' Orlando Weeks), the urge to call the album brilliant and catchy is almost an inside joke, a jaw-dropping redundancy. The simple fact is that Daydreams & Nightmares isn't just a joyous reinvention, or coming of age for Those Dancing Days, or even one the best albums of the year -- which it certainly is -- but, like any good dream, it comes when you least expect it, born out of your purest desires, and haunts you for those dancing days to come.

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