Sloan Struble, better known as the surging indie artist Dayglow, is just as human as the rest of us. While we were all confined to our sickly bedrooms in a year we all crave to forget, Dayglow was in his, too, adding the final touches to his sophomore album, Harmony House.
It’s strange to think how something so intricate, so mesmerizing could come out of a dismal year mostly plagued by political turmoil and a loss of hope. But Dayglow and his 11 tracks serve as a flashback into the grandeur of pre-COVID-19 times and a glimpse into the good times ahead.
Harmony House is truly a sign of the times — literally getting better as it goes. While the first few tracks are delights in their own ways, the magic starts happening upon the entrance of “December,” where feelings of his debut, Fuzzybrain, linger alongside a shimmering, refined Dayglow who’s unearthed some zeal amid the darkness. The seven remaining tracks can be found with joy, thought-provoking deep dives or relief — or all three — weaved into them, carving an immensely emotional and worthwhile journey to which we can all ride along.
In just a little over 30 minutes, Dayglow has provided a mainstay for those looking to ease their way out of their seclusion. He admits he’s struggling, too, but that doesn’t mean we can’t get through it together. Above all else, Dayglow wants us to know he is moving forward. But where is he going exactly? The same place we all are: nowhere but up.
Here are the best five tracks from Harmony House:
An overwhelming synth that’s steadier than the ticking heart in your chest arrives but quickly dies as Dayglow begins his story, next to a soft drum and lively bass. He’s found pacing around the room, oozing with concern and anxiety over how he feels himself unintentionally changing. A slight jingle of hope-instilling synths emerge before he thinks back to an old piece of advice: every year ends the same way, with the 12th month of December, and everything will be OK when that month comes. The track slows to solely dreamy synths to give himself an even more reassuring push, and it’s gorgeous enough that comfort will fill you from head to toe.
4. “Woah Man”
A reflective yet buoyant guitar opens this track, gushing with contentment and juxtaposing the lyrical content. A calm Dayglow seems to be conversing with an old friend who’s struggling and who has opened up to him. Dayglow asks them to sit down and let it all out, to get to the heart of what’s bothering them. After doing so, Dayglow gushes with a flood of painstakingly soothing vocals, telling them the easiest way to get past the hurdles is to walk around and forget about them. He repeats his advice with a little more oomph the second time around but draws back to a hush for the last, really letting the useful advice soak and work its way to action.
3. “Crying on the Dancefloor”
A guitar line that’s bound to make you kick off your shoes and shake your hips as it glides across a gentle backing beat. As a typically reclusive guy, Dayglow hates huge parties but finds himself at one and tries his best to be social. As he begins to mingle, an unfamiliar yet breathtaking face enters the room, and he can’t contain himself. Overcome with emotion, he begins to weep and think about the memories he hopes to make with them someday. He starts thinking about the day he can tell them how he reacted upon seeing them for the first time. Brass comes to life in the bridge, and a guitar continues to bounce with vigor off his vocals all the way to the end, giving insight into the happiness buzzing in Dayglow’s brain.
2. “Into Blue”
Trickling synths give way to a frenzy of dissonant chords that emphasize the frustration Dayglow is about to completely unveil. He softly laments, feeling so far gone from his partner even when they’re right beside him. In the chorus, when he realizes this feeling isn’t something he can control, his vocals turn fuzzy and work their way up to a stunning falsetto. Despite his significant other’s promises that nothing is different, Dayglow knows it all is, and he begins his path toward healing. A glowing guitar leads him there, and though he never reveals if he’s OK with that, the atmosphere is so beautiful and alive that he has to be.
1. “Close To You”
Dayglow knew what he was doing by releasing this as a single. Known for his upbeat hit tracks like “Can I Call You Tonight?” and “Hot Rod,” he gets even more wavy with this one, creating a texture that feels almost tangible. Synths zigzag between one another as Dayglow catches his prospective partner looking for an exit from the party he threw for her. Letting her go, he is swarmed with other attendees looking for a way out — because they all know this was a ploy to get the escapee to notice him. He admits he doesn’t believe in a no-strings-attached relationship, but that’s something he’d never tell them because when they get close enough to him, he trips over his words. From his sublime falsetto in the chorus to the raw lyrics to the glowing synths, this track absolutely shines, and it’s the best on Harmony House.