Some music seems not to have been made so much as it simply fell out of the sky, the product not of intensely scrutinized songwriting-by-committee and the chipped glamour of rehearsal rooms and recording studios, but some type of celestial will. If music is as serious as life to you, you know what this means, and you probably have in mind a handful of bands who you think have achieved it.
These seven songs - the first that Days have committed to any sort of official artifact - come from years of anonymous toil and tinkering in the band's native Gothenburg, Sweden. But they don't sound as though they came from anywhere in particular, or were ever troubled by anything as common and earthbound as mistakes, arguments, second guesses and broken strings. Taken as a whole, it doesn't sound like a debut, either - although its air of innocence, of untainted wonder at the beauty of life, could only have come from a band that, until now, has only existed in its own safely contained universe.
Of course, this is the great illusion that truly special bands are able to create. The reality of Days, and of their Downhill EP, is nothing so glamorous or otherworldly. "We've made hundreds of recordings through the years, most of them now scattered on old cassettes," says guitarist John Ludvigsson, "but these were the ones we were most happy with at that time. The making of songs has been a goal in itself, and we were quite happy just doing that for five or six years."
The band met as teenagers, "randomly, through common friends," John recalls. "Fabian's parents let us use his basement for a rehearsal room. Ever since, that came to be the place from which we would set out on our musical journey that led us to where we are now."
Although they aren't teenagers anymore, Downhill evokes a soft-focus memory of the best adolescent summer you (n)ever had: blazing hot sun, suburban fields and city sidewalks, and the latent anticipation of an inevitable leap into the wider experience of adulthood. "I've come to realize it's downhill," sings Fabian Sahlqvist on the title track, and it sounds like both a resignation and a celebration, surrender and rapture. It's a song of almost ridiculous beauty, and Days repeat the trick six more times across the length of the EP.
"We always try to make songs that can stand the test of time and stand for themselves - I think we've all lost track of our influences in the creative process of doing so," says John, politely declining comparisons to The Byrds, early Primal Scream, and the legendary cult indiepop label Sarah Records. "We're not trying to be unique or redefine pop, but find and define what's beautiful and worthwhile in a seemingly conventional context."
Fabian Sahlqvist: vocals, guitar
John Ludvigsson: guitar
Andréas Uppman-Nilsson: bass guitar
Philip Gates: drums
Praise for Days:
"It's no surprise Shelflife grabbed these guys up, as it seems to me they've always been pretty set on bringing 1980s England back to life. So what better than a band that's already done that for them? This song ("Downhill") is classic jangly pop at probably it's finest, perfect for your most lazy of days. These guys are definitely headed uphill...haha...ha...ha...?" - Skatterbrain "On their EP and 7", Days adopt all of the delicate splendor that made us all fall for Johnny Marr's guitar lines within The Smiths' catalog, and the James -like approach of Australia's criminally neglected Youth Group. The end result is a luxuriant collection of indiepop tunes, contemplative but upbeat, without either leaning taking up too much of the focus; a delicate balance between sweetness and reflection that easily could have become a saccharine-sweet mess in less able hands. Along with The Mary Onettes, Days have established themselves as among the best musicians continuing the lineage set up in 1980s. " - It's A trap "Sweden can offer melodic treasures sometimes, like - for me - these albums by Sambassadeur or Las Days of April. Days, a band of four musicians from Gothenburg, is another wonderful discovery, offering jangly, sensitive and lightly melancholic pop songs, sounding somewhere between Sarah Records (Brighter and Field Mice are not so far way) and early records by the Go Betweens or even the softest side of The Smiths.
There are 7 songs on this CD ep + 7inch, and each one seems to explore the same nice handkerchief of style and attitude. It's not obvious to pick one song in particular at first or to find big differences between them. At the same time this first collection of songs is almost too perfect for a young band, and like it was the case for Math & Physics Club, I'm afraid of being possibly disappointed by them later in their discography.
The beauty of innocence, the ingenuousness of youth play an important role here, helping a lot to build the compelling charm of Days.
One thing is sure, this ep is brilliant and at least half of these songs, "A Part of the World", "Downhill" and "Motion" are meant to last. The kind of Proustian madeleine you'll listen to in 2028 with a heavy dose of nostalgia." - Derives "I also got Downhill by Days, which is finally out on Shelflife now about 18 months after I posted "Never Came to Last" on my old blog. The question is of course, has it been worth the wait? Well, getting your record released by Shelflife is worth anything but all those months of listening to the low-quality mp3s, imagining how majestic they REALLY sounded and seeing one brilliant live performance after the other has set our expectations so high nothing short of a masterpiece will do.
It just so happens that the ep(?) is that masterpiece. The title-track is actually on the 7", as it's the perfect a-side, which makes you wonder if it's a single that comes with an ep or the other way around. Either way, I've put the three Shelflife releases LIFE1001-3 separate from both my 7"s and my cds, which must have been one of Ed's reason for choosing the double format. Apart from the four 'old' songs, Downhill spoils us with three new wonders. On the flip of the single is "Motion", a perfect title for another perfect Days tune - and a classic b-side to that. "A Part of the World" might be the song I remember from Rip It Up, sounding better than anything I've heard them do prior to that. You might have gotten used to hearing the four songs previously available, but this track lets you rediscover the sheer joy of following those layered guitar parts in your mind and marveling at their inventiveness!
The sound and production overall is spot on, with some beautiful string parts blending perfectly into the arrangements. The drums sound like they've been recorded in a different way from the rest, which makes them very conspicuous. That's fine though, as I like the sort of garagey boom it gives them. The song that sticks out is of course "Small and Ordinary", a largely acoustic affair that presents a completely different texture. An essential sort of song for a full-length album, which needs a lot more variation, you could argue that it's out of place here. But if you listen to all the seven songs together, like a mini album, it makes more sense. It's also gratifying to know that Days CAN do more that one type of song, however perfectly they do it." - Heaven is Above Your Head "My copy of Downhill, you know that debut EP by Days that everyone has impatiently been waiting for, has finally arrived. The cover art is simply beautiful and to finally being able to play those amazing songs on the stereo is nothing but a sheer pleasure. You can order the EP at Shelflife right here and why shouldn't you want to buy the EP that will dominate everyone's year end lists? Now we are just waiting for the boys to announce their grand world tour (or at least a few concert dates!)!" - Stytzer "Oh my... this is simply delicious Swedish pop that would fit right in with any of the Sarah Records' releases. " - Ditchingboy
Catalogue number: LIFE1003
Artwork by: Anna Bjerger
1. Never Came To Last
2. Simple Thing (mp3)
3. Echo Of Last Summer
4. A Part of The World
5. Small and Ordinary
A. Downhill (mp3)
B. Motion ON THE WEB:
www.myspace.com/daysswe PRESS DOWNLOADS:
Cover art hi-res
Photo credit: David Hansson
Photo credit: David Hansson