A few years deep now, Cherilyn MacNeil puts flesh on the bones of her Dear Reader project here. Lead single ‘I Know You Can Hear It’ has something of the best Dirty Projectors and The Mountain Goats to it (album producer John Vanderslice has already worked with the latter). Another fine addition to the City Slang pantheon.
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Cherilyn MacNeil’s ability to glitch and glam up ornate and baroque pop songs has been clear through the Dear Reader days, but it’s a total thesis on ‘Day Fever’, her band’s new record for City Slang. You’re telling me this record of horns and beats and cut-and-pasted electro-orchestration isn’t on Sufjan’s Asthmatic Kitty label? Okay, if you insist. “Oh, the Sky!” might be the best title MacNeil could give to this record’s opening track, as the thing is quite literally the limit on this record of saccharine and ever-rotating pop music.
It often sounds like MacNeil is writing her songs in a multitude of unfathomably huge sections. “Tie Me to the Ground” opens on banging piano chords and strikes a cadence with a choir of haughty singers, whose booming voices navigate the song into new territories. “Wake Him” sees her solo vocal get overtaken with a background choir once more, plus an ominous litter of trumpets who work much in the way Sufjan’s endless band of players did on ‘the Age of Adz’. Amazingly, MacNeil can still make these songs sound modest and calmed in places, this song feeling oddly balanced despite its grandiose intentions.
‘Day Fever’ straddles a weird line between a sugary synth pop record and a sorta bleeding, pantomimic epic eerily out of step with itself. “If Only Is” is a marching drum set-piece of suspense and blockbuster, invoking synthy dissonance against emotional harmonies and a free-falling flute solo. Be warned: this place-setting and big build-up is involving as hell, and promises a pretty wild journey -- one that its listener must prepare for most stringently. Get ready to become this record’s main character.
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- Day Fever by Dear Reader
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