Lucy Daydream spends their debut album in slow motion, whittling down the edges of indie-pop and filling out otherwise straightforward compositions with synth and distortion. The result? An album which feels like a Friday night in a world of Mondays. ‘Awake and Dreaming’ is an ode to its title: hazy, dreamy, out of touch and off-kilter.
The Denver duo, Ross Ryan and Paige Duche, started their career the way they would escalate it: drawn together after Duche covered one of Ryan’s songs, they released a series of covers, eventually hitting gold with a cover of Post Malone’s ‘Go Flex’ which hit 2 million YouTube views. A year of songwriting later brings us ‘Awake and Dreaming,’ a debut album showcasing the duo’s mastery of catchy choruses, edge of the envelope soundscapes and intoxicating vocals.
Opening with the beautifully delicate title track, ‘Awake and Dreaming,’ we are set up for an expectation of impressionistic dream pop. But following track ‘Feeling With a View’ immediately subverts that: bordering on rock, it is a stormy, guitar and drum driven track, reminding us of Tame Impala and Alt-J. Contrasting vocals move between a throaty tenor and trembling falsetto at the chorus. Although the lyrics take the backseat on this musically expressive album, illumination can be found in the prowling lines of this track, that asks “would you pay the price to escape a life of regret?”
Highlights of the album include ‘Red’ with its heavier bassline, a welcome change of pace from the abstract, steamy melodies that dominate the record, and ‘Dizzy.’ Both singles are phenomenal in that they are the perfect blend of hook-heavy choruses and indie-pop melodies. There are Ryan moments and there are Duche moments, which separate discretely and weave together seamlessly to create the incomparable friction that is Lucy Daydream.
Grounding their sound with tried and true pop bass lines and melodies, met with synth, creates a feeling of creative intention and generic abandon that avoids adhering to a single category, as emphasized in another stand out track ‘Leaving Me,’ which is stunningly arranged. An understated melodic drop and slowly building instrumentals demonstrate Lucy Daydreams musical prowess and is especially impressive knowing that they wrote, produced and mixed the album themselves in classic DIY style.
However, dream pop and hazy vocal sensibility, combined with synths, threatens to be overly complicated and overproduced in some places. ‘Somebody Else’ holds distorted vocals which detract from the hard-hitting lyrics that take an unfortunate subsidiary position. Similarly, ‘Losin My Head’ and ‘The Last Time You Lived Your Life’ are twisted, off-kilter tracks. The sound effects that are perhaps a shout out to millennial culture, in ‘Losing My Head’ are pretty hit and miss. Perhaps the band is capitalising on their unique sonic edge too much, but since this is a debut album, we’ll forgive this beyond-necessity complication, and give them time to clean up their sound, allowing the stand out singles to redeem them completely.
Closing with the haunting, breathtakingly paradoxical ‘Sleep/Erase,’ which is a slow burning cry for help, turning to explosive as the instrumentals kick in at the end, ‘Awake and Dreaming’ is a dizzying debut album. Distortion and dance pass and play with each other, creating an astonishing mix of songs that doesn’t placate you for a moment. While Alt-J started hard and fast with their experiments and burnt out quickly, we have a feeling that Lucy Daydream is only going to get more refined, more experimental and more creative with their quirky musicality.