The so-called Internet Age is really a magical time for independent artists. With a short EP and a little luck, a band can take off in a matter of months. Or, in Little Daylight’s case, all it takes is some dance-y remixes of popular artists (Edward Sharpe, Passion Pit, Ra Ra Riot) and the Net will take care of the rest. Before they had even released an original song, Little Daylight had garnered a lot of attention from the blogging community – so much so, in fact, that when they finally dropped “Overdose” as a single, it quickly shot to #1 on The Hype Machine. Now, after a slow trickle of teasing hints, the electro-pop trio finally has a proper release. It’s a good thing the EP, titled Tunnel Vision, was worth the wait.
My first encounter with Little Daylight was seeing them open for Charli XCX back in June at U Street Music Hall in DC. Having only heard a few of their remixes, I wasn’t sure what to expect, but damn if they didn’t come close to stealing the show. Their blend of sparkling synth, anthemic dancehall drums, and infectious sing-along vocals is unique and instantly addictive. In my brief conversation with them after the show, Nikki, Matt, and Eric revealed themselves to be friendly and down-to-earth. Everything I’ve read about them since has backed up that observation. In the studio, the Brooklyn trio puts egos aside – everyone’s contributions are equal, and that collaborative spirit is evident in Tunnel Vision’s cohesive, well-polished sound.
The aforementioned “Overdose” opens the EP, kicking the door down with a thundering tribal floor tom and laser beam synth lead. Before you know it, you’re unconsciously singing along with the wordless chorus. It’s easy to see why Little Daylight chose to release this song first – it’s a mid-tempo slice of memorable pop that strikes a delicate balance between its dark, almost gothic keyboards and 80’s-style pop sensibilities (a line the band manages to ride through the entire album). As the EP segues into “Glitter and Gold,” however, the group’s true strength reveals itself: Nikki’s effervescent voice. Saccharine yet lacking affectation, her unique vocalizations mesh well with the arrangements while providing a nice counterpoint to the buzzsaw synthesizers and growling bass. The track builds an interesting groove by layering a standard 2-&-4 drum beat under a half-time figure on the tom.
From there, the album moves to the slow-cooking instrumental track “Treelines,” which the group used to open their live set. Its inclusion here is kind of a headscratcher, and arguably the EP’s only misstep, as it is a brief and relatively uneventful piece of music. Just as it seems like it’s about to explode, it immediately backs off; instead of leaving the listener wanting more, it seems like a missed opportunity. On an EP, economy is the name of the game; at a scant 17 minute running time, the slot would probably have been better filled by another fully-realized song instead of a looped jam.
After threatening to lose your attention, though, Tunnel Vision quickly gets back on track with the aptly-titled “Restart;” probably the most overtly aggressive song on the album, the track roars forward with a disco-swagger before culminating in a satisfying, piano-driven coda. The EP’s final track, “Name In Lights,” is also its best; starting with nothing more than a gentle vocal loop, the track creates a laid-back jam out of stick clicks and hazy synth. It’s a warm, fuzzy, ethereal track, and it’s a nice change of pace from the more upbeat fare on display through the rest of the songs. As a whole, Tunnel Vision is excellent – it’s short, sweet, and memorable.The EP’s name thankfully doesn’t describe the contents; rather than a narrow focus, the group displays a varied take on electronic pop. I’m eager to see if that scatter-shot approach can extend to a full-length.
Tunnel Vision is currently available on iTunes.