Usually, the best albums grab you with an immediate, undeniable appeal. Whether guitar licks or soaring choruses, there’s some aspect of its songs that sink their hooks from the start. And then there’s that rare album that worms its way into your consciousness over time, even if it’s initially off-putting. Scribble Mural Comic Journal, the debut from Philadelphia’s A Sunny Day in Glasgow, is one such album.
Mastermind Ben Daniels populates his songs with lush and hazy electronic soundscapes where distorted guitars stab, lo-fi beats sputter and thump, and the dreamy vocals of sisters Robin and Lauren Daniels float by like clouds. “Ghost in the Graveyard,” for instance, veers in countless directions. Sounds drop in the mix and rise up again. Dense Kevin Shields-worthy guitar erupts. A propulsive bass thump marches forward until it’s traded in for a tambourine. All the while, the Daniels sisters’ skewed harmonies bridge the music’s many twists. Somehow, it wouldn’t be entirely shocking to hear that they recorded their vocals for an entirely different track.
Although each of these elements taken individually is beautiful, these songs never seem to coalesce — at least into the song you expected to hear. Instead, sounds collide, out of sync and in conflict with one another. But eventually something happens. Daniels’s fractured production wins you over. The disembodied voices, the disjointed music, the fuck-all attitude toward fulfilling listener expectations: It all pulls you deeper into the album’s textures and atmospheres. Maybe I came to terms with the fact that these songs operate on their own beguiling logic. Or maybe the mess just started to sound more beautiful.