Album Review: DAUNT – Unbearable Light EP

By on Wednesday, 10th May 2017 at 12:00 pm
 

DAUNT Unbearable Light EPWe work in a business that is highly unpredictable, largely unprofitable and frequently emotionally draining, so I don’t blame artists who leave the industry entirely. However, the stronger ones persist and reinvent themselves, because even in the face of disappointments, making music and being part of this crazy merry-go-around is in their blood. They wouldn’t have it any other way. If you haven’t ever checked out our friends at The Tipping Point, part of influential Generator in the North East, you really should. Tips on up-and-coming artists like my recent one on Youngr come from respected tastemakers in the industry like myself, and it’s great to listen to whom your peers are jamming to. This past weekend, I was rooting around The Tipping Point to discover a musician and producer we knew in a previous life.

Will Daunt now goes by the all-caps mononym DAUNT, and his new sound is markedly different from that of the previous band he fronted and played guitar in, the pop-leaning indie rock of Zulu Winter. With the exception of one-off single ‘The Body Rushes’ for Kitsune in 2015, DAUNT has been hard at work in secret on new material. He was preparing for a true grand entrance, which finally took place on the 28th of April. ‘Unbearable Light’ might seem like a gloomy, even strange name for a debut EP, but it serves as a clear contrast to his previous guise, as well as bring to mind well what you’re about to listen to.

Lead single ‘Drive’ appeared around the time I was busy reviewing SXSW 2017, and I think if I’d known about it, its chill vibes would have been a much appreciated, calming presence. A shuffling, syncopated backbeat provides the perfect foil to Daunt’s soulful vocal delivery. ‘Drive’ is the sound of lazy summer evenings, in a similar way to what HONNE have achieved, except that as a one-man band, DAUNT is limited to a simpler, less cluttered musical palette, and in a good way. The springiness of endearingly geeky electronic notes bring a sense of reality to ‘Almost Anything’. Otherwise, it’s a super sexy track, with Daunt crooning in the chorus that “for you, I’d do almost anything”. Why would you have any reason not to believe him? It’s head-boppingly brilliant.

Title track ‘Unbearable Light’ is ushered in with a dreamy piano line, but it builds towards a more dynamic end. Its lyrics explore the loneliness and discontent while in a relationship where communication has reached a standstill. Sat in a car in silence, staring ahead through a windscreen at night, there’s nothing but oblivion ahead. But it’s so much easier to pretend in the dark there’s nothing wrong, something you can’t hide in the stark light of day. ‘Beamish Boy’, whose title I’m assuming was pilfered from this book by a recovering addict, is the most radio-friendly track of them all. A sultry hip-hop beat accompanies Daunt’s story of a man who outwardly looks happy but harbours an internal struggle. We all question whether we’ve made the right choices in life, and never before have these misgivings been soundtracked by such an infectious melody.

While all these tunes on ‘Unbearable Light’ have a nice pop sensibility connecting them to Daunt’s previous work, the urban coolness of the nighttime is a smart move. If DAUNT can keep writing catchy tunes like these that embrace emotion in the shadows, it’s a change in direction likely to pay off in dividends to DAUNT’s career.

9/10

The ‘Unbearable Light’ EP from DAUNT is out now in digital format on Beatnik Creative. A limited edition black vinyl of the release can be preordered from Bandcamp. We hope a debut album is already in the works.

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There Goes The Fear is where we tell you about the latest music, gigs, and tours we love and think you should too.

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TGTF is edited by Mary Chang, who is based in Washington, DC. She is joined by writers in England, America and Ireland. It began as a UK music blog by Phil Singer in 2005.

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