The thing that I love about ambient pop music is that it's so familiar and yet so flexible at the same time. While it's true that someone with a guitar and vocals aren't limited in terms of the songs and melodies that they create, there is somewhat of a constraint in terms of their sound palette. With laptop pop music, that palette gets blown to shreds depending on what kind of software, filters, and production techniques are used.
So it goes with Jimmy Behan's album Days Are What We Live In. There are the familiar elements like the warm, lush production and mixture of electronic and organic elements and a bit of vocals, but even though there have been hundreds of other releases done in a similar genre, it still doesn't sound particularly like anyone else. "Granby Row" opens the release with filtered tones that sound almost foreboding, but a thumping electronic beat and acoustic guitar melody soon sweep into the mix alongside some filtered female vocals to create a nice little track that exudes the sound of springtime.
That last reference is actually one of the things that makes Days Are What We Live In so nice. The album has an overall sense of wistfullness and hope, but it never falls prey to sounding too syrupy. "Mayfly" skips along with stuttering guitars and ringing blips of electronics that captures movement well without really going much of anywhere, while the album-titled "Days Are What We Live In" mixes live percussion sounds, trickling electronics and filtered piano into something that sounds like it could be an alternate-world Vince Guaraldi Trio track.
The biggest mis-step on the album is also the track with the most clear-cut vocals and song structure. "Deeper Than Heaven" features the singing of Nina Hynes, and while her vocals are still fairly understated, the track itself pushes in some string synths and along with the vocals makes it sound like another fairly standard entry into the crowded blip-pop genre. A much better example of vocals being incorporated are the highly-filtered vocals on the drifting "Normal Situation," which feels like Boards Of Canada trying to pull off a folk song. Saving the best for last, the billowing ambience of "Under The Woods" closes out the release on an absolutely gorgeous note. If you enjoy work by artists such as Greg Davis, or even the more quiet moments from Four Tet (whom Behan has played shows with), keep an eye out for Days Are What We Live In. It's a very nice little release on a small label.