by James Fleming
Time heals all wounds. But, in this case, D-Day could do with a few more.
A couple of battle-scars, a year on the road, just a bit more time, and the scars will start to appear.
Love, loss, loathing; ugly, glorious scars that will leave a deep and necessary impact on D-Day’s sound. That human factor, that emotion and that soul, is invaluable. Nothing beats it, and nothing can replace it.
On Misunderstood, D-Day’s debut single coming two years after their self-titled EP, their soul appears just a little bit tailored, tailored towards those stadiums they will one day fill.
Whether that’s good or bad is simply a matter of opinion; whether you prefer bands who should fill arenas, or if you prefer bands who sound like they will.
As it stands, D-Day sound betwixt and between: between down-to-earth rock n’ roll and Killers-inflected pop-rock. The result is a fascinating document of a band twiddling the dials on their amps and crossing out rejected lyric lines in order to find their sound.
When an unsigned band self-releases a single it’s usually, if we’re being honest, unremarkable. It’s either a deliberate cash-in on the trends of the day, or an unoriginal throwback to when music was, quote-unquote; “better.”
With Misunderstood, D-Day are on the threshold of something new. And we haven’t heard anything new in a very, very long time.
However, it’s simply a little too close to NOW than is healthy. It sounds too close to the ka-ching! of a cash register rather than the ka-pow! of a rock n’ roll band. Like they’re using rock n’ roll as a selling point rather than a foundation to build upon their sound.
Ka-ching! and ka-pow! don’t mix well…
In music criticism, there are two much-maligned camps: “poptimism,” and “rockism.” A poptimist might view this track as being an enthralling continuation of The Killer’s sound. While a rockist would probably see it as a diluting of their beloved AC/DC.
The truth is more complex. D-Day merely sound prettified. While it’ll undoubtedly do wonders for their career, having Misunderstood mixed by Mike Fraser (he of latter-days AC/DC, Mötley Crüe, Metallica and Aerosmith), his distinctly pop-rock approach may have done more harm than good.
“Rock n’ roll is a raw wail from the guts,” as Lester Bangs said. And, with a bit more rawness, D-Day would have something truly unique.
All the sparkly guitars and harmonies, rather than add to the record, merely contribute to a sense of over-produced-ness. Had Vanda and Young got their hands on it, Misunderstood would be a different beast altogether.
The makings of a great rock n’ roll band are all here: Darragh Whyte’s idiosyncratic voice stands out from the crowd, his drummer brother Keith knows how to use a beat rather than simply play one, the lead guitar lines soar in and out of the chord progressions like Mike Campbell at his mid-seventies best, and the bass carries everything on its muscular shoulders.
This prettification doesn’t add anything to the song, it just makes it wimpy. Especially the guitar solo.
Not since the seventies have we heard such a deliciously rock n’ roll solo. Everything you could want is there: tastefulness, melody, passion. Unfortunately, while the crisp guitar tone works wonders during the verses and choruses, giving the melodies space to breathe as it does, during the solo it just seems wimpy.
And therein lies the problem: D-Day aren’t wimps, but here, well, they could sound beefier.
Teething problems, that’s all it is. This over-production makes Misunderstood sound like a product of its time rather than timeless. It sounds the same. You could hear anything like it on indie-radio in this day and age.
Which is a damn shame, as the song is so much better than that. Nothing is repeated so often it becomes monotonous/annoying, nor is it lacking hooks. It’s a well crafted, well played, ROCK AND ROLL SONG. Not a pop song. Unfortunately, that’s what they tried to do. They sold its soul.