Day Ravies_Liminal Zones press photo
PopLib usually features songs rather than album reviews. It’s hard enough to write about one song let alone a dozen or so. But an exception will be made for the exceptional “Liminal Zones” – the 2nd album just released by Sydney band Day Ravies.

Day Ravies have been a fixture on the PopLib stereo for the past few months since discovering their early 2015 releases – the “Hickford Whizz/ Taking Your Time” 7” single and the perfect 4 song cassette EP “Under The Lamp”. Both these exploratory releases indicated Day Ravies were moving a little further from their debut album “Tussle” and its generally ‘shoegaze’ daze.

In hindsight though, “Tussle” is a much broader, satisfying album revisiting it now than it was on first impressions. Amongst the gazey guitar effect shimmer there are plenty of hints of the raw guitar/ keyboard pop side developed further on “Liminal Zones”.

If there’s a new sonic template on “Liminal Zones” it’s the ‘co-lead’ role of keyboards – often outrageous squirty synth – duelling with the swooping, restless guitar lines. There’s not much shoegaze influence to be heard now but what’s here instead is a wondrous mix of a distinctly Australian gritty post-punk/ New Wave with something more timeless and European. Amongst an album of standout tracks an early favourite is the precocious New Wave art-pop of “Nettle”.

“Liminal Zones” has a solid foundation provided by Caroline de Dear’s weighty overdriven bass lines and Matt Neville’s inventive drumming (and occasional drum machine programming). Over top Sam Wilkinson’s guitar playing oscillates between scouring fuzz, swooping feedback dive-bombs and chiming chorus pedal effects. Lani Crooks’ keyboards dial in an exuberant mix of 80’s New Wave, European motorik, garage rock and Day Ravies’ own variation on Stereolab via Broadcast. Often all this is swirling around in the same song.

The other essential part of “Liminal Zones” is the more confident mixing of vocals which highlights another of Day Ravies’ strengths. Lani Crooks’ measured and sophisticated cool plays well against Sam Wilkinson’s melodic rasp. The variety and personality from each the two voices is a big part of the album’s appeal for me.

Sometimes (like pre-album single “Hickford Whizz”) those angular lead guitar lines, and Sam Wilkinson’s vocals, may suggest a reminder of the early sounds of Australian post-punk pioneers The Go Betweens . Other times (like the sombre “Skewed”) dark psychedelia of The Church in their early form may come to mind.

But there’s also frequent use of sounds and sensations which bring to mind My Bloody Valentine, Broadcast and Stereolab. However, the way these tracks are crafted, arranged and recorded, together with the character the members of Ray Davies all collectively imprint on their songwriting, adds up to a distinctive and recognisable sound of their own.

“Liminal Zones” is a perfect combination of characterful songs and an eclectic variety of styles and sounds. It’s consistently fresh and engaging and frequently delights and surprises. It’s also a bit rough-hewn and home-made which keeps it real and vital for me. A new Australian classic album.

“Liminal Zones” is released on Day Ravies’ own label Strange Pursuit (CD and DL) and also on Sonic Masala (LP – neon pink & standard black options). Beko Records in France (which released the excellent 7″ single earlier this year) is stocking the album in Europe if you are in that part of the world and want to save on postage.

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