Album Review: Scarlette Saturn Explores Bold New Frontiers on “Daydream Days” EP

I’ve known Cirice “CJ” Adams & Michael Edwards – the creative duo at the helm of the ever-evolving art rock ensemble Scarlette Saturn – for nearly a decade. Because of their longstanding friendship with my younger brother Zach (who served as Scarlette’s drummer from the project’s inception up until his departure for college in 2019), I’ve had the privilege of watching them grow and come into their own, both as artists and as human beings…and to say that I’m proud of who they’ve become and all they’ve already accomplished would be a tremendous understatement.
These kids (and they’ll always be kids to me – though I mean that in the absolute least patronizing and most endearing sense possible) – with a little help from friends & collaborators Hunter Aaron, Donovan White, and Skylar Martin, who round out the band’s present lineup – bring something truly unique and utterly brilliant to the table. They’ve got a singular vision, and they know how to execute it to perfection (their sprawling, dark, theatrical debut full length album, last year’s A Chronicle In Delusion, proved that beyond a shadow of a doubt…)
So you can imagine my excitement when I was granted the opportunity to hear their next release, a 6 track EP entitled Daydream Days, well in advance of its January 28th release date.
Like its predecessors (both “ACID” – as the aforementioned full length has been affectionately nicknamed by the band their friends – and the 2020 Quarantine Sessions EP), Daydream Days is a fully, truly 100% DIY effort, with frontwoman CJ skillfully serving as chief engineer and producer.
However, whereas prior releases relied heavily on either muscular alt-prog riffage à la Porcupine Tree, or infectious, anthemic hooks in the vein of Panic! At the Disco or Fall Out Boy, Daydream Days sees Scarlette Saturn focus primarily on building immersive atmospheres and textures, incorporating more unorthodox (usually electronic, occasionally orchestral) instrumentation and production elements, and experimenting with more angular, atypical song structures (the latter being perhaps best exemplified by the explosive mini-opera “It’s Hard to Look You In the Eye When You’re Not Really There”). The influence of midwestern emo, melodic post hardcore, and the ongoing British post-punk revival/reinvention (see Black Midi and/or Squid) is palpable throughout the EP’s roughly 25 minute runtime, though it’s never necessarily overpowering, which is a testament to Scarlette Saturn’s rare ability chase inspiration and integrate new sounds without ever losing themselves in the process.
It’s worth noting that there are still more than enough heartfelt melodies to latch onto, and plenty of energetic no-nonsense playing to whet the appetites of those who approach this EP hoping for material more akin to Scarlette songs like “Strange Places” or “Fortress of If”. But this is all more incidental than integral to what makes Daydream Days such an outstanding listen. Far more fascinating are the bold new frontiers the band explores.
Forward-thinking, subtle, deliberate, and defiant of all expectations, I think the highest praise I can give Daydream Days is that it’s the kind of record only Scarlette Saturn could make, and moreover that it’s the kind of record Scarlette Saturn could only have made at this point in time. It’s a snapshot of their growth – the sound of a group flexing their creative muscles and looking to the future, eager to explore the innumerable possibilities it has to offer.
It’s well worth a listen.
Daydream Days is due out Friday, January 28th
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