If you liked the Dent (and I did), you’ll love the Day Traders. Two-thirds of that hard-working Fairfield, Connecticut ensemble has re-formed under a fresh moniker, presenting 11 new songs that extends their signature intelligent soft pop/rock sounds into a new realm of mature confidence with the help of producer/singer/songwriter wunderkind Saul Zonana.
The eponymous CD opens with an impassioned plea to remain miserable (not so much of an indulgence, is it?) in “Tonight I Wanna Be Sad”. Mitchell Linker’s emotive vocals remain a big drawing card, and Jeff Norberg’s guitars are jangly, clear, and layered in a most endearing fashion. Zonana lends a hand with bass and more, while Kevin Hupp guests on drums. Like many of the songs that follow, this is infectious ear candy that gets sweeter with repeated listens.
“Why” is a dulcet ballad of sorts, bemoaning a relationship lost, eager for a chance to steal someone’s heart away, confessing “I don’t really wanna be lonely”. Again, the vocals are a strength — both Linker’s lead and Norberg’s backing vox. Further, the subtle nuances and hooks of the arrangements really work well, highlighting the craft within each song (I’m always a sucker for good middle bridges, and the Day Traders display a fondness for them).
A failed relationship that refuses to die is the subject matter for the pleasant “Out of My Head”, arranged with sounds like something out of the Elton John canon, back when he was at his most popular. The gist is that the sound of a voice could seriously affect plans for this mental removal plan, which sounds like a half-hearted effort at best.
Another lovely ballad, “Sorry About the Time”, gives us the rare treat of Jeff Norberg’s lead vocals (and they are quite good). This quiet, reflective piece covers similar ground (here the narrator is eager to apologize for the times that were, thinking of all he should have said and wondering “can I go on without you”).
Norberg gets another lead vocal in the delightfully romantic “Goodnight”. Here Kevin Bents’s keyboards and Aaron Comess on drums are used to great advantage (as are the backing harmonies between Linker and Nicole McKenna). It’s more unrequited longing, alas: “Here atop on this barren hill / Thinking of things I know too well / Knowing I will see you in my sleep”.
The addition of Kevin Bents’s Minimoog accents flavors the stutter-start antics of “Worry About You”, another catchy love song where concern has overtaken love to a frightening point (nerves are frayed, he’s scared half to death). Linker’s vocals sell the lyrics (yes, I’d say it’s a serious issue), and overall, the song is classic Day Trader material.
Unhappy relationships seem an endless fount for resource material. In “The Night They Said Goodbye”, we get another pair on the skids (or is it all a bad dream?). “Fantasy” is a syrupy ode to (dare I say it) another lost love, this one protected by the safety of the reverie: “To get you in my mind, to have you in my heart is easy / And what we left behind / It makes me fall apart, it’s easy / To slip into this dream”.
“Work It Out” gives us a slight variation on what’s come before. It’s a modern bit of melodic Weltschmerz, all about a world-weary man, lost and confused and unable to work it out: “It’s the end of a phase or is it the beginning / Here I am in this haze trying hard to understand / Why everyone is wrong / And I can’t get along with anybody else”.
“Someone Else Will” is short and sweet and (no surprise) chock full of relationship woes. Lyric-wise, there’s a distinct lack of communication going on (and only someone else will resolve that, sadly), but music-wise, there’s a great use of traded vocals (Linker, Norberg, and Zonana) and five-string electric bass.
The CD closes with the poignant piano ballad “Come Home”. Kevin Bents accompanies Mitchell Linker’s distinctive voice on this love song/ paean to New York City and its more exciting, perhaps less-glamorous locales (125th Street, the lower East Side). Curiously, the Dent’s last album also closed with a piano ballad about NYC. Perhaps it’s become a tradition — but the listener gets the benefit of the lovely music.
While predominantly offering love songs of a wistful nature, please don’t think the Day Traders offer the same things over and over. Each song here has its own personality, its own cache of nuance and subtle hooks. Linker and Norberg (and producer/contributor Zonana) achieve the sort of excellence in soft rock sounds not often heard these days (think the best of softer Bee Gees or Bread or even Matthew Sweet).
These gents produce the kind of music that cries out for wider exposure — oh, if only commercial radio had the wisdom to recognize it. Perhaps some television or film executives will afford the Day Traders an opportunity to match their sweet sounds to a deserving soundtrack.
The Day Traders offers it all: great guitars, wonderfully accomplished vocals and harmonies, infectious melodic songs, and clean arrangements that present this knowledgeable soft pop/rock in its best musical light. If you’re a fan of soft rock, these talented guys truly deserve your attention. While dealing with actual day traders might require all manner of caution, spending your money on these Day Traders is a solid investment, one that will give you sound returns for a long time to come.