Daley – he of the elaborate hair and sexless R&B sound – has a pretty convoluted discography for such a fledgling artist. His biggest (and only) hit so far Remember Me has been featured on two separate EPs, one of which is called Days & Nights. Days & Nights – the album – does not feature that track. His other well-known track is Alone Together, which was first featured on his mid-2012 EP Those Who Wait. Alone Together is title-track of his November 2012 EP, and it also features on the Days & Nights album, here in February 2014. This is not the only problem.
Days & Nights, the album, is a Frankenstein’s Monster of a record, cobbled together from EPs and singles that have appeared over the past two years. The more recent tracks, such as Look Up and Broken (both from late 2013), sit next to Blame The World and Alone Together from 2012. This lengthy period of gestation hasn’t increased excitement in Daley’s project, and has only extinguished what, after Remember Me, was a smouldering prospect of a new pop hero.
The music itself is one of the biggest problems with Days & Nights. Daley, throughout, provides a dextrous and varied vocal approach. His sultry soul emotion on She Fades reveals his Bee Gees head voice in all its dramatic splendour, complete with violin accompaniment. Despite strings and 5ive-esque stop-starts ruining the trip-pop triumph of Good News, Daley’s vocal performance is the highlight.
Of the ‘new’ tunes, Time Travel is the most effective – a Justin Timberlake-lite call-and-response vocal line and smooth edges are appealing. Look Up, a collaboration with Pharrell, comes across as either elegant elevator music or pleasant call-holding music. A bongo-led effort with extremely irritating stabs of sharp digital noise designed to sound like a backmasked hi-hat, Look Up is a major disappointment. Pharrell was wise to let Daley have Look Up and keep Happy for himself.
Daley attributes the long delay in the release dates to his perfectionism, yet it might simply be easier to admit that this is the ideal time to release the record because there is such a lack of economically viable, marketable acts releasing new music the same week as Daley. It seems to be that this is the natural progression this type of music must make before it dies: this is post-Amy Winehouse, post-Strickland Banks pop fluff in a world already full of Sam Smiths and John Newmans.
People who are mad enough to still pay money for an actual physical artefact that holds the music they listen to, and people that want the artist they are purchasing it from to actually do something new for their hard-earned money will not find anything of the sort here – however, Marissa Nadler releases her new (as in new, not a composite of offcuts and EP tracks) album July the same day as Daley releases Days & Nights. Hint hint.