There is, like anything, a place for whimsy in this world, and it’s a place that a lot of bands seem to be going to these days. A folksy, harmony-laden, handclap-heavy kind of place favoured by groups like Noah and the Whale or Stornaway, it’s where Wicklow five-piece The Daily Howl seem to be very much rooted. Their self-titled debut EP could even be a postcard for it, but whether it does enough to entice you to stay is another question.
The four tracks on offer here are all nicely pleasant, nicely thought out, and nicely produced; the problem is that they may be too nicely pleasant, too nicely thought out and too nicely produced to really make an impact. There’s a steadiness and a wholesomeness here that needs to be shaken up; at times, the songs wander so far into the land of whimsy that it overwhelms them.
The jaunty piano and guitars and mellow harmonies of opener Hang It On A Hook, for example, play second fiddle to the “stay positive, my friend!” life advice being doled out in clichéd and painstakingly-rhymed lyrics. Later, the barn dance vibe of Haulin’, despite its pretty melody and close harmonies, gets slightly tiresome, and, while the bluesier, changeable Say You’ll Stay plays around a little more, it almost feels like it’s trying too hard to do that.
I Will Let You Down, ending the EP, might just be its highlight. Even though all those whimsical elements – the hand-clapping, the tight harmonies, the cheesy lyrics – are all there, it has an energy and a personality that’s distinct to the others and doesn’t permeate them in the same way. It’s slightly different, and the EP definitely needs that.
It’s not that The Daily Howl aren’t good at what they do: it’s just that what they do has been done by many bands before them, and they do it just a little too well. If you’re going to go to a place occupied by a lot of others as well, you need to find something that makes it your own. That sadly hasn’t happened here, and ‘The Daily Howl’ loses out for it.