Swedish all-female pop group Those Dancing Days – and their d�but, In Our Space Hero Suits – were an oddity amongst the roll call of 2008. While not a bad album by any means, it didn’t suggest they’d be releasing another. Rather, they had that strange vibe of being a one-album wonder, and its bouncy carefree, Altered Images-recalling pop songs – while enjoyable – hardly screamed career longevity. They appeared to have painted themselves into a corner. Where could they possibly go next?
So the fact that a follow-up exists at all is a surprise. That they appear to have brought an element of maturity to their songwriting, and carried it off well, is nothing short of extraordinary. One only has to continue the Altered Images comparison to see the pitfalls of maturing on record – 1983’s Bite yielded little but one hit single, the alienation of their audience and the end of their career.
Where this new record really scores is that the things which made the first record so enchanting in its own right, especially on songs such as Hitten and Run Run – instant, infectious pop songs with near boundless energy – have been retained, and meshed seamlessly with a new level of sophisticated songcraft. Nowhere is this more evident than on single I’ll Be Yours, combining chiming melodicism, an anthemic chorus and a poignant instrumental breakdown to brilliant effect. Elsewhere, the propulsive Can’t Find Entrance and understated Help Me Close My Eyes demonstrate that the band have a wide range of songwriting tools which they can call upon at any given moment. Fuckarias has them putting their thumbs in their beltloops and rocking out.
Aside from the songwriting side of things, Those Dancing Days have also matured musically. Gone are the plinking Casios of the d�but, and instead a more refined bank of atmospheric synths add a shimmering quality and greater overall fidelity to proceedings. The discreetly beautific pairing of When We Fade Away and Keep Me In Your Pocket start the album’s home stretch in fine fashion. The frenetic stalker anthem of I Know Where You Live Pt 2 is perhaps misplaced slightly in the tracklisting given that it’s sandwiched between the aforementioned pairing and a near-waltz featuring The Maccabees‘ Orlando Bloom. But that is to nit pick. The album-closing duet is a stunning track in its own right, with Weeks’ vocal adding a haunting undertone.
What we have here then is not some great second-album leap of the David Bowie or Noah And The Whale ilk, but instead a careful tweaking of an existing formula. The refined songwriting and slick production take away the slightly saccharine-sweet edges that potentially put people off the first record, and as a consequence this could in relative terms become Those Dancing Days’ gateway to a larger audience. With great pop hooks a-plenty, Daydreams And Nightmares amply demonstrates that growing up doesn’t always have to be boring.