[sic] Magazine

Day Wave – Headcase / Hard To Read

The first half of Day Wave’s melodious double EP Headcase / Hard To Read was originally released last summer and, boy, if the expanded re-release isn’t the first woozy swallow of this season, too. Wistful but blissful, one-man bedroom project Jackson Phillips seems truly to have a tap on the main vein of jangling 80s indie and swooning dream-pop. His unobtrusive, budget-but-luxury synths stroke like a hand running over sable skin, New Order basslines wandering the stars. Headcase has improved with age as well, comfortably now a top-drawer serving of aching familiarity, neat riffs dug out of the dream-box on demand, shimmering guitars and sighing vocals combining like it’s 2AM and you’ve had too much to drink, the whole world a intoxicating blur. Snappy drum programmes prevent anything overly saccharine, tracks like “Nothing At All” sounding like lost classics. “We’ll Try But We Don’t Fit In”, on the other hand, comes on like it was recorded in an airport hanger, Phillips’ huge reverbed choruses swelling up to heaven, his drizzle of guitars bleached by the bright California sunlight of home.

Comprising new material, Hard To Read is slightly cleaner in production, slightly more adventurous in melody and composition too, but side-by-side these two EPs play near seamlessly. Phillips’ sunny tunes and to-die-for backing vocals continue. They really couldn’t be more perfect for crushing hard and fast, doe-eyed moments and hours of hand-holding. In the same Wild Nothings, Horsebeach-style, Hard To Read’s title track echoes with the sound of a plugged-in acoustic, drums and bass cascading over the pillowy synth work. Lead single, “Gone”, however, just like chillier closer “You”, is more understated and tearful … summer lovin’ coming to a sombre finale. Parting ways is always tough, but just as Day Wave has a handle on nostalgia, looking back on Headcase / Hard To Read will fill you with nothing but fondness after each spin, an old flame with a special place in your heart.

Best track: “Hard To Read”

~Headcase / Hard To Read is released March 18th 2016 via Fat Possum.~