When Dayseeker released their fourth full-length album Sleeptalk, it marked a drastic change in their sound. The stylistic turn was a wise one, though, as the record launched Dayseeker into huge success compared to their earlier work. Dropping much of their (admittedly really good) metalcore sound for more overt pop and R&B influences, the changes make absolute sense. When you have a vocal talent like Rory Rodriguez, you pretty much have to utilize him. It’s like when a football team doesn’t use their ultimate weapon – pretty silly, right?
On their fifth full-length Dark Sun, though, there’s everything to play for. While Dayseeker haven’t made a pure pop album (there’s still some heavy moments, like on the emotionally resonant “Neon Grave”, a tribute to Rory’s father), there’s no doubt that it’s their most melodic work to date. Interestingly, much of it is influenced by Hurtwave, Rory’s synthwave project that’s definitely inspired by The Midnight. Dayseeker is also quite adept at this style.
Take “Without Me”, for instance. One listen to this song and you fucking KNOW they’re good songwriters. Plenty of ebb and flow reigns on tracks like this, which explode in a climax (lol) that is both sensual and cathartic. If you’ve ever been in a relationship that ended and you’re the one left picking up the pieces, this song is immediately relatable.
Pretty much every song on the album will have most people blubbering like a baby, but few do this better than “Afterglow (Hazel’s Song)”. Written about Rory Rodriguez’s daughter, anyone who’s ever been away from their children while at work or on the road will inevitably be moved by the powerful lyrics – saying nothing of the interesting and melodic music within. One of many songs that contain no prevalent sense of typical “heaviness”, the subject matter is still heavy. Obviously there’s other tracks to discuss – the title track, “Midnight Eternal”, and “Homesick” all burn with bright melodies and act as emotional setpieces for Dayseeker’s star turn.
While some critics have criticized this record as having a lack of identity, the opposite is actually true – especially since it’s pretty clear this pop + R&B-influenced post-hardcore is exactly their wheelhouse. While many of the song structures are pretty identifiable and telegraphed, it’s balanced out by solid (read: not insipid) lyrics, instrumentation, and one of the most dynamic vocalists in the scene right now. This band just has so much fucking heart in them that you’re doing yourself a disservice by not giving it a chance.