Rewriting the love letters and dream journals from the 80s, broaddaylight's new album anniversaries:reunions welcomes the counting annual rites of passages from the 80s sneaker-staring movement like the embrace of a prodigal returned lover. On their third release, Fullerton, California's James and Sarah Eakins' curate ethereal fields of sounds that become reunited and mastered by their hero, Robin Guthrie.
The Eakins core duo spin a set of 7 grooves, recorded in the same manner that the first generation of compact discs sounded where the mid range and treble ring high above everything else in the audio spectrum by virtue of the audio mastering technologies from the day. With the oversight of Cocteau Twins maestro Guthrie, this effect is afforded while much of James’s instrumental arrangement and production remains within static placements amid the daydream revivalism. But restraint is the name of the Eakins approach, which teeters between freezing development and triggering seizures of recaptured vintage facsimiles. Picking up where the sounds of dream pop's past left off; Sarah states it best on “Reunions” where she sings, “it's like you never left, at all”.
All the dreamier songs drift in and out in what can be heard as part of an unconscious symphony of reverberated guitar strums. Opener “Arpeggio” brings the group’s gothiest moment of minor keys and ominous synthesized underbelly tones. Sarah’s voice and guitars ring like silk streamers in the wind. And while the opener might stay a minute too long, the beautiful enchanter of “Reunions” doesn’t stay long enough, but streams into the mountain song and sway of “Interlude” where Guthrie's mark of mastery alludes to the Cocteaus of 1988, circa Blue Bell Knoll. While it is easy to get hung up on the group’s gazier affectations and obsessions, the Eakins' shared musical visions shine in perfect time on Henry Bennett's four-quarter dance rhythms on “Anniversaries”. With keyboard tones that could have been ripped from Southeast Asian found pop presets, “Anniversaries” is a rich dance cut deserved of being remixed a thousand which ways. The ode to George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire/Game of Thrones epic fantasy and R'hllor priestess, “Melisandre” takes on equally Gnostic guided proportions. Guided by James' static keys that you wish would dive in and out of the mix, guitars instead shriek along the fixed synth scepter that drops you into the cold calm of “Oceans” that carries the faint specter of Guthrie's presence and behind the scenes touch. From the still moving 80s-era alluding waters, Sarah’s voice tries on her best imitation of Curve’s Toni Halliday, before drying you off with the light touched dance programming heart heat from “Warmth”. Emulating everything from the Swedish approach to indie beat programming to the underground inventors of the new romantic and progenitors of 90s album rock; “Warmth” perhaps best exemplifies their revisionist approach in a science that bridges their palates of disparate decades.
What broaddaylight balances well here is their classic dance approaches combined with their journey into the mood ring looking glass of pre-90s reconstructions. Much of the era authentication, almost to a fault, is the mastering treatment that will have you turning up your bass to find a balance. But the purpose here is intended for that high tone treble experience, where clarity in construction means a high range definition while the lower and mid frequencies are not dealt with the in the same attention. And with Cocteaus legend Guthrie at the final processing helm, you would have hoped perhaps for more of a mix variation where James's guitars would be given more room to stand out, the keyboard’s prominence more subdued and used as more of a secret weapon than an omnipresence for greater impact. But it is the keyboards that sound the most contemporary on the record, where the group’s summoning of the day’s popularities of dark water coursing synth pop fancies are met with their own guitar chill-gaze-rave candy for the head and heart.