“All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer…”
The above quote is particularly fitting for the electronic pop outfit Daily Drivers who appear far closer to the end of this process than the beginning, but rely on taste to drive their sound. Their EP Eighty-Two takes its name from the road running through the group’s HQ in Aurora, OH. And here’s where the Ira Glass quote nestles perfectly. The theme of emulation drives the five songs. But lead singer Kyle Messner and company are not only secure emulating their influences—The Black and The White, Chet Faker, Daft Punk, Closure in Moscow and Animal Collective to name a few—they are confident doing it.
The most impressive aspect of Daily Drivers is their ability to craft hooks inspired by their favorites while still experimenting. They change tempos; transition from pre-choruses to interludes then to catchy verses; and dive often into lengthy instrumental passages. The song writing is more reminiscent of a progressive rock band than any pop band, and this is where the group sets itself apart from its contemporaries.
While some groups might rely on synth and vocals to lead the way, a la Merriweather Post Pavilion rip-offs, Daily Drivers resists malaise by putting Austin Bianco’s guitar at the heart of most songs. Not only does he downright shred (see: the bridge of “Call on Hold”), but he also gives the songs definitive structure and depth. And while he does show his cards often, (the guitar riff anchoring “Look My Way” is clearly cut from the same cloth as Daft Punk’s “Lose Yourself to Dance”) the taste is what matters most right now.
From instruments alone, Eighty-Two fits in perfectly on a playlist of any of the aforementioned bands. Vocally, it also runs the genre gamut. My favorite moment on any of the five songs might be Kyle Messner’s work on “Look my Way,” particularly in the interlude where he pulls off a Christopher de Cinque impersonation more convincing than even the Closure in Moscow front man could do himself. And the lyrics: “It comes to my attention/Your touch is so tender and tepid/Magnetic and welcome/It’s easy to tell from the way/You look my way” are poetically complex, playing on assonance, rhyme and homonyms.
Daily Drivers, at the very least, seems self-aware of their music, and that is much more than must young DIY musicians can say right now. For a debut, Eighty-Two shows a group on the cusp of something wholly novel; a sound that is entirely unique; an album to place them side-by-side with their influences. The anticipation makes Eighty-Two all the more enjoyable.
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