After unashamedly falling in love with “Can I Call You Tonight” after hearing it a thousand times on TikTok last summer, Dayglow’s debut album Fuzzybrain became my quarantine soundtrack. When the world was depressing, I turned to happy music, and nothing served me better than Fuzzybrain’s upbeat, bright indie pop. Hearing those songs now fills me with nostalgia for the times I went for drives through the Arizona desert with my sister because we had nothing better to do with our time. Dayglow’s music was our escape. Needless to say, I was extremely jealous when I found out that because I was a freshman, I barely missed Dayglow coming to perform at Cornell.
Harmony House started as the soundtrack to a fictional sitcom. Sloan Struble, the man behind the music/dayglow, was inspired by the soft rock of the late 70s and early 80s, as well as the old TV show Cheers. From the synths to the lyrics, the whole album is drenched in the welcoming, nostalgic vibe of an old sitcom. The album is about change, a theme best exemplified by the song “December,” Struble’s favorite song of the album. The song reads like one of those classic teachable moments on a sitcom. “So my friend, you just remember every year has its December,” he sings, a line borrowed from his great-grandmother’s favorite poetry collection. He continues, “There’s gonna be days where you don’t feel like you, but that’s what seasons do, they change!” That chorus is undoubtedly my favorite lyrical moment of the album and a perfect bit of advice that will stick with me.
Sonically, although different from the glittery, anthemic pop music of Fuzzybrain, Harmony House still sounds like the Dayglow we know and love. Like Fuzzybrain, Struble made the entire album alone in his bedroom. Even though he’s become famous from his first album, he still composes his music alone, which I really appreciate as a fan. This time around, the songs are more piano-driven and often bouncy, with a clear 80s influence throughout. There’s also a fun easter egg for fans to look for throughout the album: the melody set by the opening track “Something” can be found in one form or another on each track in the album. If Harmony House is a sitcom’s soundtrack, then “Something” is most certainly the main theme.
I believe that there is a song for everyone on Harmony House. It starts out with a string of indie pop bangers—I know I’ll be dancing along to “Medicine” and “Balcony” all summer. I have also been jamming to the album’s lead single “Close to You” since January and I think any pop music fan would love the song’s addicting beat. The album’s dramatic centerpiece, “Crying on the Dancefloor,” is a glamorous rock song pulled right out of the 80s.
The second half of the album is more ballad-focused with slower, more personal songs. If you liked Rex Orange County’s “Pluto Projector,” you would enjoy the last two tracks, “Strangers” and “Like Ivy,” which seamlessly blend together to form a sentimental and nostalgic close to the album. Their beautiful, somber melodies and orchestral production immediately reminded me of “Pluto Projector.”
Personally, I’m a sucker for a good pop song, so my favorite tracks would have to be “Medicine” and “Close to You.” However, the album definitely is not perfect. My least favorite song has to be “Something,” because I find the bass pattern to be grating and discordant with the rest of the song. Additionally I find some of the instruments, melodies, and samples to be a bit out-of-place (why is there a random airhorn?). I’ll be skipping it in the future.
Overall, this is a great album for any indie pop fans to check out. The happy, bouncy vibes are perfect for summer and many of the songs are destined for your road trip playlist. The timing of this album could not have been better: it’s coming right at the start of the summer, our first months back to near-normal life. You can stream Harmony House everywhere on May 21st, and you can also catch Dayglow live at the Harmony House tour later this year.
Lauren Douglass is a freshman in the College of Arts and Sciences. She can be reached at [email protected]