Just over a year after Strange Ranger followed up the soaring, ambitious Rot Forever LP with the starkly sedated Sunbeams Through Your Head EP, the Portland trio-turned-duo returned earlier this month with Daymoon; their most lush, diverse work to date. The 15-track opus oscillates between the visceral climaxes of Rot Forever and the balmy textures of Sunbeams, ultimately finding a comfortable medium that ripens their signature sound in a way that feels like a natural progression. Although, to fans who fell in love with the mountainous song structures of Rot—all 72 minutes of which were recorded in a studio in a mere 10 days—Daymoon, which the band self-recorded in their basement over a three-month period, is a very different album aesthetically.
“I feel like we were definitely sort of on a Montana-y headspace while making Rot Forever,” frontman Isaac Eiger said over the phone last month, a couple weeks before the record’s release via Tiny Engines (The Hotelier, Adult Mom, Jouska) on October 6. “On this one, geographically, it feels much more like being in a city at night.”
Geographical comparisons continue to be effective ways of describing Strange Ranger’s releases, considering the parallels between each project’s sonic landscape and its respective cover art. Rot’s vastness was depicted in its cover’s alpine scenery; Sunbeams’ ear-popping height in its artwork’s cloudiness; and Daymoon’s intimacy in its cover’s proximity to a child biking—the most landlocked visualization of the three. Even before pressing play, Daymoon appears more tactile than the band’s prior works, which ties in beautifully with what Eiger considers to be the record’s main motif: closeness, and a lack thereof.
“I feel like Rot Forever is somebody telling you how they feel, and this album is like someone telling you about the outlines of the feeling in some dumb attempt to make the person feel the feelings themselves,” Eiger said. “More about the impressions of the feeling rather than explicitly, ‘this is what I’m feeling.’”
Compared to songs on Rot like “3fast” and “In Case It Gets Lost” that contained 200-plus word ramblings packed with hyper-observant detail, most of Daymoon is much sparser and erratic lyrically—though just as potent.
“I wanted it to feel like you’re in a dream and the logic doesn’t work linearly,” Eiger said. “I wanted it to be more emotionally coherent. When you’re in a dream and ‘A’ does not lead to ‘B’, but it all makes sense in the internal logic of the dream.”
Many of these songs wrestle with the discontentment of existence yet knowing that there is no “right” way to feel. “Were you an alien before you knew you were/the ache that never hurts,” Eiger sings in the pulsating “Everything All At Once,” one of the more aggressive cuts on the record. “I feel older now/than I’d like to be/lose the fireworks/do you forget your dreams too/I do,” he intonates with a patient drawl on “Most Perfect Gold of the Century.”
“I think a lot of the songs are about wanting this impossible something that is not there and will never be there,” he said. “And just sort of feeling this feeling of just being bothered by the fact that life doesn’t feel the way you think it should. I have trouble feeling things in the way that I imagine other people should be feeling them.”
Strange Ranger will be playing the DIY space TV Land in downtown Albany on 10/31 alongside semi-locals Jouska, which is a match made in heaven.