Album Review: Le Days – Stuck In My Head (Alternate Recordings)

Stuck In My Head (Alternate Recordings) is the fourth studio album from Varburg, Sweden-based experimental act Le Days. I’ve featured them twice before on the blog, through their very different but equally challenging tracks Red Little Hands and We Are Slaves. Both feature in the collection of alternate recordings of tracks from their second album I Am Your King.

By Graeme Smith

Stuck In My Head is a collection where you’ll never know what is coming next, only that it will be surprising. It opens with the slow and melancholic Mouthplay. A droning note sets the scene before deliberate, tense acoustic guitar joins in. Each note is revelled in, taken time over. There’s no rush here and it’s all the better for it. What’s most impressive though, is that it is never dull, despite its plodding tempo. That’s quite a feat considering it is seven and half minutes long.

The cryptically-titled 23617 comes next, a feature of Le Days’ desire to never fully explain their pieces, leaving the listener to fill in the gaps. Its spoken word lyrics speak of heartbreak while a pensive piano plays. As it reaches its climax, the piano becomes more assured and is joined by throat singing.

The aforementioned Red Little Hands follows, perhaps one of the collections more accessible pieces. Sung vocals are accompanied by sombre cello and a delicate piano melody. Its vulnerability is what makes it so welcoming. We are invited into Le Days’ world, into their pain and their desire. It’s certainly a highlight.

Up next is Shadow King, the first fully new track. It’s suitably dark and foreboding, driven by cello and strident bass drum. It builds to a cinematic cacophony that’s steeped in drama. My Mama Said is a stripped-back, acoustic counterpoint, in which the poetry of the lyrics do the talking instead. It builds to an unexpected blues rock crescendo.

It moves seamlessly into the album’s midpoint Blood Is Blood where the blues remain heavy and the vocals pleading. The percussion grows, as does the tension. It’s a real primal scream of a song and afterwards we’re in need of a breather. That comes in the form of understated static and piano interlude In My Chest.

The album’s final leg is kicked off by the brooding and haunting We Are Slaves before launching into the collection’s final new track My Mind Sees It All. A piece of solo cello, it creates a huge amount of atmosphere out of very little. It’s another highlight.

Then it’s the title track, a piece of gentle acoustic folk, it combines strings with a delicate guitar melody. The vocals are expressive and compelling as ever, giving way to a passionate instrumental solo that will give you pause for thought.

The journey is brought to a close by the intimate, spoken word I Say Escape, and what a unique journey it’s been. I really don’t think my words have come to close to scratching the surface of Stuck In My Head. It’s such a dense but rewarding collection which only grows better with familiarity. My advice: listen to it, then listen to it again. You can check it out below.