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Dayglow’s People in Motion is going nowhere in particular

"People In Motion"

Release date: 07 October 2022
Dayglow People In Motion Album Artwork
07 October 2022, 11:30 Written by Matteo Pini

After several albums of bedroom pop, Dayglow has embraced a cleaner sound for the most streamlined album of his career. Consistent to a fault, the music on People in Motion has the edgeless optimism of a vitamin advert.

Throughout his discography, Dayglow (real name: Sloan Struble) has worn his reference points on his sleeve: flashy 80s synth-pop shot through the polished lens of 2000s indie. Although not blessed with a particularly distinctive voice, on his best songs, the 23-year-old Texan has a guileless positivity that elevates his music beyond mere playlist filler. With his biggest hit “Can I Call You Tonight?” at nearly half a billion streams on Spotify, the hope was that he would go the route of Clairo or Frankie Cosmos, transitioning from gimmicky DIY frippery to a more considered songwriting approach.

People in Motion is certainly brighter and louder than its predecessors, the first Dayglow project with a professional mix (courtesy of industry veteran Joe LaPorta). Yet the high-def makeover has not come alongside a deepening of Struble’s craft. The result is more of the same mawkish sentimentality of his earlier albums, without the charm that made the flaws easier to ignore.

There are some decent moments: the opener “Second Nature” is the album’s best track, with a fun Daft Punk-aping vocoder on the post-chorus and cowbells galore. “Radio” has some lovely, starry-eyed vocal work on the chorus, as does “How Do You Know,” which brings to mind Imogen Heap in its glassy artificiality. Yet all too often, lyrical reaches for profundity scan as embarrassingly shallow: “That feeling you get when it stops making sense / Yet it's right” goes “Stops Making Sense,” a rote tribute to concert life and the worst thing on here. The repetitive, playlist-like sequencing does People in Motion no favours, with one mid-tempo synth popper piled atop another without any emotional payoff or arc. The result is insipid and disposable, like a sugar-free version of pop music.

Struble has cited Tame Impala as one of his favourite artists, someone who has proven it is possible to fuse throwback synth-pop with emotionally resonant songwriting. Barely out of his 20s, there is time for Struble’s chops to develop further. Unfortunately, until they do, his music will be like that album cover: brightly coloured and conveying nothing.

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