Dear Reader, aka Cherilyn MacNeil, brings listeners her first release in four years, Day Fever. Named after one of the many out-dated monikers for hysteria, the record effortlessly moves between panicked melodies and soothing soundscapes.
Beginning this is ‘Oh, the Sky!’ which is a soothing orchestral number punctuated with electronic bleeps, using layered harmonies to signal warnings of the darker elements of the album. MacNeil is unafraid to be self-aware in her lyrics, which is evident in ‘Tie Me to the Ground.’ This song begins with the concept of narratives: “You will be Peter/I will be Wendy.” It puts the whole album into a certain context: not everything that you listen is necessarily true, and creative liberties can always be taken.
One of the narratives that is hopefully based on real events is ‘So Pretty, So Pathetic,’ which delightfully tells scumbags to go to hell with haunting vocals and staccato piano to punctuate the song and express frustration. MacNeil’s most interesting approach to music is the focus on the importance of recognising who is allowed to tell stories, by using third person narration in a self-aware manner. ‘Wake Him’ continues telling stories in a third-person narrative, but one which appears to be addressing MacNeil.
In contrast, ‘Placate Her’ switches to first person, to inject themes of hatred and discussing how to silence the people that we hate. MacNeil chooses to urge herself and the listener to become more aware through third-person narrative, but condemns her own negative qualities in the first-person. ‘If Only’ combines drum beats with droning synth beats to continue a more sinister sound, urging the listener (or perhaps, MacNeil herself) that “you can’t go back/you must go on.”
Third-person narratives are amplified ‘Nothing Melodious,’ which uses backing vocalists to create a Greek chorus effect, sternly telling off the lead singer and telling her to get to a doctor to address her maladies. ‘The Run’ appears to be a song about song writing, or perhaps it is a referral to the implied hysteria of the album’s moniker – either way, it is a discussion highlighting how rhythm infiltrates MacNeil’s mind on a regular basis.
What is most impressive about this release from Day Reader is the dual discussion of creating narratives, and the representation of the narratives that MacNeil has created that create the story of the record.