Audio Mixers: Jake Reid; Paul Baker.
Static Daydream are a noise pop duo led by Paul Baker, previously known as the frontman for cult favorites Skywave and the underappreciated Ceremony (the shoegaze one, not the hardcore one that eventually signed to Matador), along with his girlfriend, Jamie Casey. Like those bands, Static Daydream follow the Psychocandy formula of taking Phil Spector's Wall of Sound to its violent extreme, marrying girl group pop hooks and pounding, insistent rhythms with painfully loud, serrated guitar noise, often jacking the tempo up to punk speed. Lyrically, both of those bands expressed harsh feelings of inescapable alienation, bitter solitude, and hopelessness to the point of suicidal thoughts. Static Daydream continue this, with Baker spending nearly every song on the album begging a lover to stay or attempting to run away from isolation. The emotions are as piercing as the barbed-wire guitars, but the songs manage to go down as bittersweet sonic ear candy due to the abundance of well-crafted hooks, as well as flourishes like the sugary keyboard lines twinkling beneath the fiery guitars, plus the sweet vocal harmonies by Casey. As with Ceremony, there's a sense of melancholy that rivals the Cure or Depeche Mode, and Baker's deep vocals (as well has melodic sense) often resemble the Magnetic Fields' Stephin Merritt circa Holiday covered in distortion. The duo does deviate from the relentless, punishing sound for a few moments, beginning the midtempo "Just Stay" with dubby echoing drums and acoustic guitars, and calming down the six-minute "Until You're Mine" at the halfway point, lulling from a fierce, light-speed scorcher to a slower, quieter section with trip-hop-like beats. "When I Turn Around You're Gone" follows in a similar suit, relentlessly blazing for four intense minutes before stepping back to breathe for the final two, letting echo-covered beats reverberate around the dazed guitars. The album logically ends when Baker has lost all hope and has ruined every last chance, declaring "I've destroyed everything, all that's left is nothing" over a driving rhythm and a guitar riff that oddly seems to echo Ozzy Osbourne's "Crazy Train." Static Daydream is a soul-crushing, exhilarating album from a duo led by a noise pop/shoegaze lifer who has long been an expert at turning overwhelming frustration and loneliness into powerful, affecting art. ~ Paul Simpson