The shop window – Daysdream (Jangleshop)

The shop window – Daysdream (Jangleshop)

May 2, 2024

In Kent, located in the southeastern corner of England, The shop window (TSW) makes majestic indie pop that you must listen to. Yes, I know this may sound like an exaggeration in light of world events. And sure, at the end of the day, “this is pop” like Andy Partridge once sang, but like his band, Ecstasy, TSW is writing timeless – and frankly necessary – music.

With two previous albums to their name, “The State of Being Human” (Spinout Nuggets, 2021) and “A word of 4 letters” (Spinout Nuggets, 2022), TSW is known for blending Byrds -ian 12 string guitars and radiant TO RIDE -ian vocal harmonies in an impeccable indie pop package. And while the two previous LPs are fine and worth exploring and playing repeatedly, the new release on May 3 is something entirely different. “Daydream” (Jangleshop) is a 60-minute, 16-track epic spread across two vinyl records (or one packaged CD, and is also available digitally). In simple terms I will spell it out. If there were an equivalent to the “required reading” list of the school curriculum in the indie music world, this LP would certainly hit the mark as we head into the summer of 2024.

Contrary to the tradition of many bands peaking with their first album or two, TSW has gotten better with every album. They’ve composed themselves well on the new record, successfully eliminating less desirable aspects of their song arrangements and instrumentation. To be fair, the songwriting quotient has also multiplied many times over on the new record, and despite being a hefty 16-song set, it’s hardly a dud.

I’ve been listening to the new album for months and loving it. I can barely contain myself, but I can’t talk about it, apart from three of the four great singles I’ve reviewed here on this site. I’ve been worrying from the beginning TSW band leader, Carl Mannwith questions about “Daydream”‘s and his view of the end results. Some of his insights have found their way into issue 94 of The big takeover magazine that you can order here as soon as it is ready to ship. There are more of his reflections woven into this LP review below.

While the new record is a lot to take in at once, “Daydream” is by design a dichotomous musical vision that came to Carl’s mind early in the writing process. The resulting LP is essentially a merged pair of mini-albums: ‘Days’ and ‘Dream’. It was written, recorded and sequenced with ‘Days’ tracks that capture the upbeat jangle-pop side of the band and ‘Dream’ tracks that lean more dream-pop, shoegaze and psych.

To make this effort even more Herculean, Carl opted to write, produce, mix and master the 16-track LP himself over a period of more than a year. He is both proud of and intimidated by the band’s achievements, noting: “Personally, this album scares me a bit because I’m not sure how we can top it in the future. I literally got lost in a bubble making this record. Ask my wife, she will confirm.”

“I Run” kicks off the album. Choppy harmonies begin before jumping happily into jangle-pop dreamland. It effortlessly evokes a host of familiar sonic touchstones Johnny Marr‘s arpeggio Smith riffs to sparkling melodies that happily take me back to bands from the 80s The Railroad Children And, in particular The narrow lobsters. Contemporary ‘file under’ janglers include Eyelids, Bell School, QuiversAnd Stephen Coast.

It’s a small thing, but I love how TSW sometimes he creates melodies with notes in the books, so that a song emerges and fades with a recurring aural signature. It’s here on this song and elsewhere on the new record, and it has the addictive effect of making you want to start the song over and play it in a perpetual loop.

“It’s a High” (another single) was “a magical co-write with Syd” (Simon ‘Syd’ Oxlee ; vocals/keyboards) as Carl remembered TSW‘s Bandcamp listening party in February. “He sang the vocal melody of the verse to me, and I immediately loved it. I think Boeker T was an influence on the muted guitar riff that runs throughout. I played with my Gretsch dampening strings and that sound just came out. Reevo (Paul Reeves ; guitar, sax) completed the cake with his saxophone parts that he added at the end.”

The ‘Days’ portion of the album is largely uptempo and is the equivalent of sonic sunlight. In addition to the singles, “Lady Luck,” “See Another Day” and “Lost & Alone” are highlights. Strumming acoustics and reverberating electronics are layered with wistful keys that are present but never overly loud in the mix. These tunes are unashamedly sing-along food in the car. Song after song grabs the listener in an auditory hug. As Carl says, “Getting lost in a melody is just one of the greatest highs I think I can experience.”

The “Dream” section of the record starts off with a bang. “Miracles” is perhaps the album’s most striking song. It strongly illustrates Carl’s intention to broaden the band’s musical landscape, but its full resolution took time and some arm-twisting with band members to achieve. As Carl reflects, “We had the verse of this song at the time we made it “A word of 4 letters”. However, I was never happy with the chorus we had at the time, so I shelved it for a while. About a year ago, out of nowhere, a chorus popped into my head that completed the song. I wanted to do something really special with this song and step outside of our normal way of doing things. It took some convincing to get Mart and Phil (Martin Corder, bass; And Phil Elphee, drums) to wait until the outro before coming in on bass and drums. I wanted the song to slowly build the tension up to that point and then release into a big shoegaze-y instrumental until the end.

Carl told me (rightly!) what the song sounds like TO RIDE‘S “Going blank again” had a child with him Depeche mode‘S “Offender” . As Syd remembered TSW‘s bandcamp listening party: “It’s the perfect starter for the ‘Dreams’ side and sets the tone perfectly. Personally, this is one of my favorite songs we’ve ever made.

The “Dream” section continues with many highlights. “Blues” (the most recent single) caught my attention with the thumping 12-string guitars that kicked off the song. It’s simple and effective, well balanced with light bass and drums through the verses. ‘Loneliness’ again has a spectacular, tear-jerking, emotional riff, and the spacious keys and harmonies once again give the music a timelessness. “Monochrome” is so catchy. This uptempo gem has a brilliant 60s feel, complete with a punchy beat and keyboard accents in the breaks. “A World Where We Remain” (another single) proves that TSW excels at slower tempos. The lyrics are enhanced by thumping twelve strings, a dirge-like rhythm, blissful strings and piercing organ notes that together evoke an eerie, apocalyptic feeling. “Happy Now” is another haunting tune that somehow sounds familiar upon first listen. The minimal melodic structure is truly hypnotic, but the band keeps it fresh with an array of instrumentation and mix adjustments.

Carl becomes cathartic on this record. He says: “So especially with this album I found it very therapeutic because I wrote a lot more lyrics, so it feels more personal. I think this is the best way to create balance and get those kinds of pent-up feelings out through an art form. I feel like that happened in droves and so much “Daydream” that it has been very good for me too. The album’s closing track, “Made in Heaven,” is a good example of this. At just over seven minutes, Carl says the song is the hardest and most personal lyric he has ever written. Speaking of his father’s alcoholism and Carl’s one-time fear of following suit, the song is a message to the young man he was. Carl sings, “lose the past and spread your wings,” and later the song fades into a gentle two-minute instrumental – a time to reflect on where he is now in life having just turned 50.

Listen here on bandcamp, where all formats are also for sale.