This is a review of "The Dawn Approaches" recorded by Daybreakers. The review was written by Jessica Thornsby in 2009.
The debut EP from Leeds based Daybreakers makes liberal use of a jazz triple-header of trombone, trumpet and saxophone, in addition to the usual guitars and drums.
EP opener 'Into The 5th Dimension' is riotous ska-punk with kooky lyrics ("we're travelling through space at light speed flat / and I think I forgot my hat.") that give it a certain geeky appeal.
The whole song is underpinned by rumbling drumbeats that act as a deeper, more resonating counterpoint to its jazzy highs. The interaction between these two opposing sounds is inspired. This is especially true of the instrumental introduction, where each drumbeat is spiked with a jazzy note; and a bridge section where a trumpet climbs ever higher, only to judder back down in perfect synchronisation with the drumbeats.
'Into The 5th Dimension' ricochets between relatively sparse verses - where the main attraction is those trippy lyrics - and an instrumental chorus of hard-partying, ska-punk jazziness. It's an uncomprimising song. Right from the start, you'll know whether Daybreakers are the band for you.
Like 'Into The 5th Dimension,' second track 'It Aint Easy' hinges on the ricochet between jazzy outbursts, and periods of straightforward indie-rock.
The verse switches between a short bass sequence, and walls of shrapnel-like jazz and huge vocals. This ricochet effect means that 'It Aint Easy's all-out jazz moments feel heart-stoppingly sudden and enthralling.
'It Aint Easy' is a stylish, groovy rock song spiked with razor-sharp jazz hooks.
Daybreakers are on to a winner with the military beats of 'Beautiful Machine.' With only the occasional jazzy flourish to detract from the verse's bone-rattling drumbeats, 'Beautiful Machine' is a heads-down, rumbling rock song.
Daybreakers do occasionally deviate from that great central beat, as screeching jazz instruments hustle the listener into a riotous, ska-punk chorus where frontman George Quinn chants the wonderfully no-brainer refrain of "she's a beautiful machine / she's a beautiful machine" over and over.
'Beautiful Machine' packs a helter-skelter chorus, and a deadly-serious verse, proving that one song really can deliver the best of both worlds.
'The Dawn Approaches's casual groove and verses of swaying guitars rhythms might not immediately leap out and grab you, but after a few spins its laidback melodies will well and truly have wound their way into your brain.
Even better are the song's instrumental sections; namely, a chorus of buzzy riffs, and a bridge section where serrated chords cut through that continuous background buzz.
During the verses, 'The Dawn Approaches' delivers a poised, steady groove but, when Quinn stops singing, this song really comes into its own, as Daybreakers prove they know how to pen an instrumental passage.
EP-closer 'Keep It Coming Keep It Flowing' is another Daybreakers song that improves past the halfway point. The overlong introduction and first verse, are underpinned by tribal-tinged, rumbling drumbeats, edged in glimmering riffs and an unobtrusive undercurrent of jazz instruments. It's in danger of becoming a little samey but, thankfully, things pick up after the first chorus, as the verses of 'Keep It Coming Keep It Flowing' adopt a quicker drumbeat and the chords become more crackly, making for a harder-rocking, brisker listen.
'Keep It Coming Keep It Flowing's post-first-verse improvement is also due to a heady chorus where Quinn's voice and the jazz instruments judder ever higher, attaining dizzying heights before its time for the next verse.
A headrush of screeching jazz, jerking chords and rollicking drumbeats bring this song to a short, sharp and exhilarating conclusion. Initially, 'Keep It Coming Keep It Flowing' seems like nothing special, but it's worth sticking with, as it does get much better.
With 'The Dawn Approaches' EP, the focus is firmly on the music, and Daybreakers know how to bring rock and jazz together. At times, it delivers lively, straightforward ska-punk, but mostly, this EP takes a more thoughtful approach to blending rock and jazz. This is a record for people who love ska-punk, but sometimes wish that the genre could be about more than just getting people to dance like maniacs and have a good time. Jazzy rock, with some rare thought behind it.