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SJD -Dayglo Spectres

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Rating: * * * *

On last year's Songs from a Dictaphone Sean James Donnelly had the other sort of commercial breakthrough - two of the tracks were picked up for two high-profile local TV ad campaigns.

That was undoubtedly good for him, though for those who had taken his lovely Beautiful Haze to heart before it was truncated into a jingle, it's hard to hear it now without thinking it's part of a very good snowjob over the West Coast authenticity of a certain brew brand.

That agency attention may have helped the quick turnaround to Dayglo Spectres. Though as it's much less pop-nifty that its predecessor, it's hard to see what its tracks might help sell in the coming year. Unless, that is,  there's a market upswing in retro-aerobics gear.

Because there is something quite madly 80s about a few of the tracks - especially Nite Club which has the sort of hooks which come on like a Flight of the Conchords treatment of Go West or other forgotten synthpop wonderboys of yore.

If that implies a new sense of fun, Dayglo Spectres does feel a more expansive, less nailed-down set than its often claustrophobic, essentially bedroom-created predecessors.

It's also apparently a product of SJD the band rather than the boffin - guitarist James Duncan (good to see his initials conforming and hear his guitar's presence among that synthetic texture) now sharing co-writes on the songs.

It's often been the case that after electronic-based studio-oriented artists get out on the live stage they feel the need to go bigger, rockier, only for their records to lose the minimalist charms which made them stand out in the first place.

This is a punchier album which should give the band's live set some extra springboard. But song-wise, SJD would still seem to be   a deft disciple of the Bowie/Eno/Byrne axis.The opener If I Lose My Way gives as good Bowie as the new TV on the Radio album and, in other parts of the song, as good Eno as LCD Soundsystem.

The closing Fire in the Crawlspace neatly splits the art-funk difference between Talking Heads and Talk Talk and gives the album a hypnotic atmospheric finale.

In between, the quite brilliant Baby You're Oh So comes on like the Beach Boys being set upon by Kraftwerk's robots. There's more sci-fi flights of fancy on the languid The President Of Mars And The Emperor Of Mercury  while the lullaby-paced My Window comes as lovely respite after a double instrumental of  the blip-n'throb freneticism of We Come and the meandering Shindaisha.

But for the most part Dayglo Spectres remains compelling for how it's upped the energy levels and deepened the grooves without losing SJD's singular songcraft.

But yes, it will be interesting to see what they can sell with this lot. Albums hopefully.

Russell Baillie

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