DRAFTDAY – When I Went Away (EP Review)

DRAFTDAY- When I Went Away
Released:   May 19th, 2020

DRAFTDAY Line up:

Arran Barker| Vocals
Lucas Sharp| Guitar
Tom Ford | Guitar
Manolis Kamitsis | Bass
Rowan Dally | Drums

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With life a little less than usual, everyone needs some escapism, right? Well as luck would have it, the genre-spanning debut EP When I Went Away from Darwin’s DRAFTDAY will provide just that.

The EP starts incredibly strong with ‘Mess I’ve Made’ which has an eighties/DREAMCAR intro and bridge, a great singalong chorus and even a sneaky saxamaphone towards the end. The song starts with fantastic drumming from Rowan Dally, features excellent guitars from Lucas Sharp and Tom Ford and Manolis Kamitsis’ bassline is so funky. This song gives the first glimpse of the rich timbre of Arran Barker’s vocals. They are so smooth, so rich and to hear this song live is going to be a treat!

Next up is ‘Misspent’, which was the first taste we got from the EP and another absolute slapper of a song. If the roof of a venue stays on after this song, I will be damn surprised. This song has a few different parts, a great electronic and guitar intro, another catchy chorus, eighties feel in places and then a fantastic heavier break down with a whole lot of sound.

After the loudness and hugeness of the first two songs, ‘Aster‘ will take you by surprise with its gorgeous acoustic-ness (yes that’s a word), and until you hear Barker’s unmistakable voice, it will almost feel like you’ve somehow skipped to a different band. This is such a pretty song with gut-wrenching lyrics- the chorus saying “There’s thoughts that I can’t communicate / and your love that I just threw away / I’ll try to comfort myself but today / I don’t feel okay.” After the first acoustic part and Barker’s soft, low vocals, the song bursts into a wall of instruments and Barker hits his soaring higher range. There are beautiful harmonies and backing vocals, a build-up and an incredible guitar breakdown. The pain in this song is clear, but it will be such a great song live. The audience will put their arms around each other and do the classic side-to-side sway.

Sticking with the different sounds and genre-spanning is ‘A Perfect Light’ which is ambient and pretty but completely different to the rest of the EP. It is mostly electronic with only Barker’s voice and Dally’s pounding drumming and that damn sexy sax. Such an interesting song and addition to the EP but I can easily see it as a great transition to give the band and crowd a breather in live sets. From the end of ‘A Perfect Light’ comes the punch of the indie-rock ‘White Fences’, which is hard-hitting from the first note. Now that we have a bit more freedom with isolation restrictions lifting, this song would be perfect to put on in your car and drive down the highway to the beach with the windows down, soaking in the gorgeous autumn weather. This song yet again has a punchy chorus, great backing vocals and the bass line in this is so good! There are lots of opportunities for crowd participation with “woooahhs” and a yelled break down of “This is / all there is”. There have been many comparisons between these guys, and one of their influences Trophy Eyes and this song makes it easy to see why.

Speaking to Wall of Sound back in February (wow, doesn’t that feel like a lifetime ago), the band said that they feel that “constant experimentation is a necessity in art”  and teased that the EP would contain a few curveballs and a tear-jerker or two. They also said that while it was influenced by the likes of Gang of Youths and Trophy Eyes, they felt they had made it their own sound, and that is definitely true. In five short songs, this EP has an eighties feel, incredible instrumentation, a gorgeous acoustic moment, an ambient electronic moment and so much sax appeal (see what I did there?). And while there are bands you can compare them to, they have their own sound and feel, and this EP is uniquely theirs. If this is what DRAFTDAY can achieve in a five-song EP, I cannot wait to see what they come up with for a full-length album (no pressure guys). This EP excited me, and I cannot wait to see what the future holds for this band!

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DRAFTDAY – When I Went Away track listing:

  1. Mess I’ve Made
  2. Misspent
  3. Aster
  4. A Perfect Light
  5. White Fences

Rating: 8 out of 10 sexy saxes
When I Went Away is out May 19th. 
Review By – Caitlin MacDonald (@cait_2tone)

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