Out of Season
Daniel Land's new album, "Out of Season", is his most ambitious record to date, a series of reflections on history, memory, and post-Brexit Britain, which was inspired by Daniel’s return to the landscapes of his youth – the
Daniel Land's new album, "Out of Season", is his most ambitious record to date, a series of reflections on history, memory, and post-Brexit Britain, which was inspired by Daniel’s return to the landscapes of his youth – the rugged, underpopulated west coast of Somerset, where he has spent increasing amounts of time since beginning the album in 2018.
"Out of Season" was written and partly recorded there, in a static caravan overlooking the coast, during the period when the UK was tearing itself apart over its relationship to Europe.
"I didn't set out to write about Brexit", Daniel says, "I have a kind of horror of political music. But I couldn’t escape the atmosphere of the time – this strange, distorted version of ‘Englishness’ in the national psyche. I’ve always been interested in memory and nostalgia; Brexit illustrates the dangers of taking seductive, possibly false memories at face value”.
Songs like “White Chalk”, “Island of Ghosts”, and the album’s title track, represent a series of attempts to reclaim an older, more peculiar idea of England which, Daniel says has been “Lost in the nationalist mythmaking of the past decades” – the island of misfits and outsiders exemplified by the works of Derek Jarman, for example, whom Daniel was rediscovering while working on the album.
“I must have read 'Modern Nature' ten times over the years”, Daniel says. “What I love about Jarman is that he had a deep, abiding love for England, but it was a very complicated, critical and a very queer kind of love. That was very much my mood, going into the making of this album”.
Like Jarman’s work, "Out of Season" probes national identity whilst also displaying resolutely queer themes throughout. Daniel’s voice – once described by The Guardian as "The spawn of Elizabeth Fraser and Anthony Hegarty” – is less heavily reverbed than before, bringing to the fore his often-confessional lyrics, inspired by the frankness of modern queer poets like Andrew McMillan, Seán Hewitt, and Ocean Vuong.
A lyrical highlight is the gorgeous “Southern Soul”, a deceptively straightforward recounting of a decades-old hookup with a closeted guy from his hometown which, Daniel says, “Serves as a metaphor for everything I’m talking about in the album”. Elsewhere the potentially Slowdive-referencing opening track “Alison” subtly flips assumptions with Daniel’s note that “Alison is a fairly common boy’s name in Lusophone countries, like Portugal and Brazil”.
And in keeping with the album’s nods to the heroes of gay literature, Daniel’s self-styling of the album as a “Dream Pop Album on National Themes” deliberately references the full title of Tony Kushner’s era-defining play "Angels in America", whose central character is namechecked in the hook-laden “Lemon Boy” – a song which must surely stand as Daniel’s most deliciously pop moment yet.
In a genre is often maligned for its lack of engagement with the real world, Daniel Land uses the sonic conventions of shoegaze as a backdrop for a distinctly outward-looking exploration of memory, identity, and desire, approaching his work with a master craftsman's attention to detail. Not surprising, then, that Daniel has become both a scholar and a practitioner of the kind of music he creates, studying towards a PhD on artists like the Cocteau Twins at the London College of Music, while releasing his own works, and collaborating with artists like Darkher and Siobhan De Mare. He is also currently writing a memoir about homophobia.
Lauded by Mark Radcliffe, Guy Garvey, Tom Robinson, and many others, Daniel Land makes music that, in the words of BBC Radio 1, "You can't help but think the late John Peel would have loved".