It was getting dangerously close to the end of the year, and I still hadn’t picked out a favorite track from 2023, if only for my own contemplation, even if not for publication. This week, though, I finally listened to Daydreamer by Molly Burch, which came out in September. It sat in my album collection in Roon for a few weeks before I even took the time to actually put the virtual needle on the record. It was a mistake to sleep on this one.
The sixth song, “Unconditional” is far and away my favorite song this year. While the song starts out slow, the chorus, which begins when you are least expecting it, is a blatant nod to the more disco-influenced side of Japanese city pop. The song features immaculate string arrangements combined with bass lines that have incredible buoyancy. Burch’s pouty vocals transition beautifully between the aching verses and the upbeat chorus. As the city pop takes over, you realize just how bitter-sweet the lyrics to even the chorus are (“I’m barely hanging on”) and it starts to dawn on you that she’s talking herself into moving on from sadness (and an ex). The musical dynamic matches perfectly with the emotional movement in the song.
When I found out that Daydreamer was produced by Jack Tatum, who also self-produced my other favorite record this year — Wild Nothing’s Hold — it didn’t surprise me. Tatum has collaborated with Burch, who is his labelmate, in the past. His production shines here, as it does on the Wild Nothing record. Synths softly accent, guitars both chug along with new wave verve and solo with tasteful restraint. Tatum knows just when to juice things up for the most impact, and it comes across not only in “Unconditional,” but in most of the other songs on the album as well.
For bonus points, checkout the video for “Unconditional,” which features a fantastic roller-skating scene that I can’t stop watching.