Track Of The Day: daze – ‘star signs’

Following a debut EP that raised £240 for Mind, ‘star signs’ is the new track from indie dream-pop duo daze. Written in February, the band say they’ve aimed for a mix of “sparkly guitars and warm synths” to create a perfect summer vibe.

I think they have absolutely nailed that. If nothing else, daze have proven that they are extremely competent when it comes to bringing their concepts to life. The fact that they manage to write, produce, mix and master the track entirely from their bedroom is a testament to their talent.

The different layers of the song fit together so well that it feels a lot more polished than you’d expect from even the most technically proficient homebrew. Having said that, I don’t think it’s lost any of the raw charm of DIY tunes. It has a lot of warmth and energy that only comes from a piece of art that someone has poured their heart into as they craft it.

The song itself is light and relaxed, but upbeat. The strings twinkle over the rich synths, eddying gently from riff to riff in a way that you can’t help but get carried along. Between the sparkles, the flow and the way it eventually fades away, ‘star signs’ captures the brightness and colour of summer sunsets using only sound.

It really is impressive how daze have managed to make such an evocative piece of music; a soundscape that inspires you to close your eyes and completely lose yourself in the scenes it creates. Particularly given it hit me with exactly that sensation on one of the drizzliest, dreariest days of the summer so far.

Kirstie Summers

Track Of The Day: daze – ‘yourself’

According to daze, the writing of ‘yourself’ only began towards the end of last year. Mind you, even by the standards of most DIY artists, their recent output verges on the prolific, with this single following two self-released EPs and a single, all since July 2020. Having met in college in 2017, their later releases reflect a second stage for the pair; a shift into dreamy indie-pop, and away from singer-songwriter fare. It’s possible that this recent prolific spree is due in part to lockdown, which probably suits the creative process of a self-described “bedroom pop” act, and daze – who are comprised of duo Daisy and Scott – seem to have mastered the sub-genre even by this early stage of their career.

For starters, ‘yourself’ comes packaged in what, judging by their Bandcamp, is something of a signature style for the duo, with its kawaii-leanings in coloured pencil evoking ’90s tech and kids’ cartoons. That return into youth typifies the best of indie-pop, right back to the Sarah Records days, although the piano loop that whirls through ‘yourself’ arguably has more in common with a house record. Between the piano and the drum machine hits, there’s a little of the pop-dance that dominated the charts some fifteen years ago in the track, but intermixed here is dream-pop guitar that shimmers in layers and layers, gently building with emotion amidst flecks of picked out notes, and echoing around Daisy’s impressively honeyed voice.

With a neat line in richly emotional lyrics, ‘yourself’ tells the story of a friend of Daisy’s, and their struggles with their mental health. “Do you know what I’m on about?”, Daisy sings, “I haven’t seen your colour lately” – a neat nod to the near dayglo imagery of the single’s cover sleeve, with the percussive nature of each line dangled delicately around the lilt of the track’s melody. Loosely structured, the song’s lyrics repeat whilst building with subtle changes, drawing the listener in, before, at the song’s close, they drape over each other and then fade out.

Featuring the pair running in slo-mo towards the camera, in a colour-saturated version of the woods, the self-directed video is oddly reminiscent of Pixies’ ‘Velouria’, although with a somewhat less demented bent and slightly more vintage sportswear. That said, the video shows a couple of people who are creatively in-sync, and happy to deal in an aesthetic that prizes honesty and expression over cool, sleek production values.  And the truth is, that what the band lack in budget, they more than make up for in musical ability. ‘yourself’ belies both the duo’s age, and their origin story, and suggests that while they might soon make it out of the bedroom, staying in has helped them show their colours.

‘yourself’ is out now. Download via bandcamp and listen on Spotify.

John McGovern