Side projects from non-frontpersons come loaded with risk. Sound at all similar to your main band, and you’re written off as derivative or unnecessary. While it’s true that Total Babes‘ Jayson Gerycz drums for Cloud Nothings, that’s always been Dylan Baldi’s baby, the other band members filling in his paint-by-numbers. Yet the side project narrative remains thanks to that band’s rapid ascent. Luckily, Gerycz’s second band should sound familiar to Cloud Nothings fans, but with enough twists to warrant some attention, even if it can’t hold the same unified, cathartic, powerful sway of Cloud Nothings.
Featuring the voice of Gerycz’s better-known band is a bold move, but the sandbox that Total Babes build for Baldi on “Circling” is clever. The laser-beam noises, high-gear guitar chug, and saxophone wonk are all unique to this song, distancing it from the more traditional garage punk and power pop surrounding it. It’s hard to deny, though, that Baldi’s throaty snarl sounds much more engaging than Christopher Brown’s blithe, relatively sunny vocals throughout the remainder of the album.
The smeared synths and long-voweled cheer of “Blurred Time” opens the album as an encapsulation of the whole: They sound like kids messing around in the garage with the door propped open, sunlight streaming in. The jaunty “Bone Dry Eyes” continues that trend, juxtaposing a power-sanded chorus with a cotton-mouthed feedback outro.
Gerycz’s drumming is strong throughout, which should come as no surprise to anyone who’s listened to Here and Nowhere Else. The double-time ripple and warp-speed fills give closer “Can I Turn You On” life to counteract its dangling guitar ice. “We’ll Come Around” similarly counteracts the wavering guitar sway with more percussive punch.
At just 30 minutes, Heydays plays it cool, breezy, and quick without much weight to throw around. That’s the way that Total Babes seem to like it, even including a sweet, lonely piano track in the midst of its short punk album. This isn’t meant to be explosive like Cloud Nothings, but rather the sort of thing that keeps summer afternoons alive as long as possible.
Essential Tracks: “Blurred Time”, “Bone Dry Eyes”