Days - I Am Love (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review


I Am Love (2009)


Recently, the Washington, D.C. hardcore scene really hasn't been known for the creative genius it once was; the bands that do resonate from the basements are solid, but they're particularly stark and obviously derivative. Enter probably the most unique and strange hardcore band to come out of the district, Days, who have made it quite clear that they're "tired of making music for a hardcore scene that doesn't have a fucking clue what hardcore means" ("A Place and A Song"). There are two ways to interpret this lyric: One, a bold and true statement against the bastardization of true hardcore spirit; or two, they're being really fucking pretentious -- maybe it's a little bit of both. Of course, the light distortion, the abundance of singing and the ballad-like intro "Appendicitis" may have you question if they even know what hardcore "is," but once the calm ruptures, I Am Love proves to be an unsetteling and relentless product.

Where their last record, Move the Mountains faltered, they've definitely improved; the experimentation is a lot more cohesive and the vocal delivery sounds much more natural -- sometimes forced, but yeah, more natural. Unfortunately, Move the Mountains was 10 songs and at 15 songs, I Am Love is about five too long; with all the intricate noodling, it just gets plain exhausting.

Though, in consistency to the aforementioned debut, the lyrics are quite captivating. Behind the pen, vocalist Dreux Richards scribbles critiques and epiphanies -- sometimes articulate, sometimes strangely erotic, but always confrontational in nature; all the lyrics seem to be written for someone or at someone, but the topics are broad and, in turn, remain universal. That being said, when reciting "it's been a long time since I've found comfort in the idea of original sin or the logic behind the bargain bin / that it's a matter of price to make what's old new again," the lyrics are fairly abstract and I couldn't tell you exactly what "topics" he's yelling about. Nonetheless, something is there.

Instrumentally, there really is some interesting stuff going on. When the heavy riffing goes away, the leads drift in and out of empty spaces in the music, creating an eerie backdrop. Sometimes, like "Vertebrate," there is even a complete absence of distortion and it creates an anticipation that essentially goes nowhere (in a good way).

Gloomy singing that echoes against walls of atmospheric guitar layers? Chugging, guttural and unapologetic hardcore? The duality shines best with little tastes, so I'd be lying if I said this is a record you could listen to more than three or so songs at a time. Days may not be the "next big thing," but with I Am Love, they've contributed a refreshing slab of creativity and intelligence to the genre.