After a couple of releases that established Day Wave's dreamy, reverb-dunked bedroom indie pop sound, the band's owner/operator, Jackson Phillips, takes a bold step forward on The Days We Had. Previous Day Wave songs sounded like a glossy update of the kind of beachy '80s-damaged pop Captured Tracks bands like Beach Fossils were known for; now Phillips has gone in for a larger, slicker, more pop-friendly approach. His vocals soar over the pristine layers of guitars and synths, the bass and drums have a driving power, and the melodies have an aching, melodramatic quality that would be the perfect soundtrack for a heartbroken montage scene from a lost John Hughes film. It's not a million miles away from the sound of earlier Day Wave albums; it's just a pumped-up version that's meant to be heard by scores of people, not just isolated pockets of mopey bedroom pop enthusiasts. Unlike many times when artists make the leap from the bedroom to the big time and lose what made them good in the first place, Phillips managed to improve on what he was doing. The Days We Had takes advantage of the sonic upgrade and bumps everything up a notch, from songs to vocals and everything in between. In one easy step, Day Wave went from being a promising band to a fully realized project with an impressive album under its belt. It's not the most unique sound ever created, and there are bands like Wild Nothing who do it better, but Phillips and Day Wave are close to the top of the class, and another couple records like this and they might be teaching it soon.
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AllMusic Review by Tim Sendra