Day Joy Share the Sobering Opening Track Off Their New Album

Day Joy’s new cut, “Fumbling, Prologue” is, quite literally, a fumbling prologue. At 5:15, it’s a heart-wrenching number that charts a drunk driver’s sobering journey. It’s also the opening track on the Austin-via-Orlando indie folk act’s forthcoming sophomore album, Great Satan, Mass Appeal.

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“Fumbling, Prologue”–premiering today on American Songwriter–begins with somber guitar and piano parts that quickly give way to Michael Serrin’s full-throated vocals. His voice lilts and frays and croaks as the song lurches forward. The arrangement itself seems to swerve and totter and slur. 

Serrin’s lyrics drift in and out of legibility: “I loved you not then / not at all,” he sings, his register shifting up then down several notes. “You cut me open / sucked the blood with the pen,” he cries. “Screeching to a halt / I guess you were an adult / when you drove us so drunk,” he intones, his voice quivering. 

Some lines bristle with sadness or nostalgia or resent or longing: “We were fumbling in our graves / but it wasn’t a mistake;” “Know that you don’t deserve a thing;” “In all of my dreams / I’m still grinding my teeth.” The guitar and piano parts grow progressively more jangly and disjointed throughout the track. Eventually they twinkle and fade, like stars during sunrise. Serrin’s last word is “liars,” repeated softly, as if to himself.

“A lot of Great Satan, Mass Appeal was written on the road or just away from home in general,” Serrin tells American Songwriter. “I thought an appropriate prologue for the record should start on a drive with a drunk person in the driver seat toward an undetermined destination. The story anecdotally sets the tone for the record.”

Great Satan, Mass Appeal follows Day Joy’s 2013 debut album, Go to Sleep, Mess (the band moved from their hometown of Orlando, Florida to Austin, Texas following their debut).

“The record was recorded wherever I could find a quiet space: my bedroom, a friend’s living room, a coffee shop after closing,” says Serrin of his experience recording Great Satan, Mass Appeal.

“The songs really started to take shape when I brought those sparse and organic recordings to Greyson Charnock’s Old Familiar Sound Studio where we honed the tones, tightened up the production, and added a lot of studio-quality instrumentation,” says Serrin. “We decided, however, not to make the record ‘too polished’ and did not remove any of the natural ambiance from my previous, lo-fidelity, recordings.”

You can hear that lo-fi quality in “Fumbling, Prologue,” which was recorded in a coffee shop where Serrin used to work.

“I would record there over night when no one was there,” explains Serrin of his makeshift recording studio. “There was an old 1950’s Baldwin piano in there that sounded amazing with the natural reverb of the concrete floors and brick walls of the shop. You hear that piano several times on Great Satan, Mass Appeal, and it is prominently featured in ‘Fumbling, Prologue.’”

“Fumbling, Prologue” follows Day Joy’s latest single “Celebration (or a salutation, ongoing),” a plaintive, atmospheric number released in October. That single followed two others released in 2019: “White” and “Not Anymore.” Day Joy is rounded out by a rotating lineup of musicians including Charnock, Noah Gordon, Joey Davoli, Peter Perceval and Dom Sena. Great Satan, Mass Appeal is out Spring 2020 via Future Gods.

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