A deep understanding of dance culture, balanced with emotive song writing...

“We got home and listened to it, then got on the phone with each other and decided to drop the whole thing.’’

Second album stutters are always a lingering fear for breakout artists. For Cubicolor - and specifically, vocalist Tim Digby Bell - these fears became a stark reality in early 2018. After the critical reception of their debut LP ‘Brainsugar’, there was an elevated level of expectation surrounding the Amsterdam based band. And their biggest critic was always themselves. 

‘’The next week we went back into the studio and started again. We didn't keep anything.’’

Following the scrapping of the album, the trio went straight back to work, dedicated to producing a body of work that reflected this sincere progression.

The result, ‘Hardly A Day, Hardly A Night’ is the triumphant culmination of this struggle. Brimming with emotion, their latest LP continues the stirring combination of dance music with classic instrumentation and fervent vocals heard on ‘Brainsugar’.

This profound aesthetic has led to comparisons with the likes of Four Tet, Moderat and Bonobo. Certainly, the depth in sound evokes the experience of these artists, and at moments, even the ecstatic highs felt on Bicep’s debut album.

Yet the vocals of Digby-Bell offer a unique point of difference. He conjures a sense of pain through the strain of his vocals, most strikingly on ‘Points Beyond’, which details the loss of a close friend. This suffering is reinforced n the mood of the production, which rises and fades with the vocals.

Crucially, the trio are also mindful of when to strip back the tracks and leave vocals out, displaying a clear commitment to the dance floor rooted in the heart of their production. The hypnotic synth and groovy bassline on ‘Melodies’ is ready made for big room, early morning euphoria.

This understanding of dance culture balanced with emotive song writing is the striking feature of ‘Hardly A Day, Hardly A Night,’ offering a provocative follow up that exhibits their progression as a band.

8/10

Words: Angus McKeon

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