Days Away - Mapping An Invisible World (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Days Away

Mapping An Invisible World (2005)

Fueled By Ramen

I used to loathe Days Away. For years I passed the band off as a horribly bland take on Stay What You Are-ish Saves The Day, especially after seeing them open for Finch in 2003. Cut to the next time I saw Finch, late last year, and apparently the band had grown leaps and bounds, now opting for much more atmospheric arrangements and root-reaching influences.

The band's former label, Lava, completely dropped the ball with Mapping An Invisible World. The band's debut full-length finds Days Away injecting ambience and lush arrangements into their delicate emo pop, a majority of which seems to fit in line with their present-day contemporaries, sort of like a complex, lyrically competent, more-former-than-latter passive aggressive early Armor For Sleep in that sense. However, unlike those bands and more, DA take a *light* influence from more revered, 90's traditionalists like the often-extended instrumental atmospheres of Sunny Day Real Estate and the drifting, world-weary haze pop of Wood/Water-era Promise Ring. Bridging the gap between the eras is what makes Days Away stand out above the glut of bands they often play with and/or are compared to (which even myself am guilty of).

Though his talents are far better witnessed in a live setting, drummer Tim Arnold definitely has his moments on the disc here, whether it's riding hi-hat or the seemingly programmed feats pulled off in the bridge of "Mirrors" and "God And Mars" as well as "T. Kline's Decline." His technique seems to draw primarily from jam bands and secondarily from prog, and it's a hybrid that somehow works wonders for his band's general style of which is a polar opposite.

Standout tracks include the only real cynical-sounding track of the bunch, "Mirrors," as well as the musically upbeat and pessimistically reflective ball of irony that is "Ideas." Creating an opening track for such an easy-going sound has to be a feat in itself, and Days Away pull it off with "God And Mars," a comparatively bold number with Keith Goodwin's vocals at the forefront and swiftly executed changes to rich dynamics in the chorus. Even amongst the complex arrangements, these tracks and others sustain an overwhelming catchiness to them that's at times rather compelling.

Days Away have crafted a fairly original and pretty enjoyable mix of atmospheric pop-rock with Mapping An Invisible World. While its second half could certainly benefit from vividly more interesting moments, the record is a pleasant substitute for the otherwise horrendously derivative, mind-numbing antics of most of their peers.

God And Mars