Decay – ‘Staring at the Sun’

By Ash Bebbington

Looking for your next favourite emo band? Say hello to newcomers Decay. The Liverpudlian four-piece’s debut record ‘Staring at the Sun’ showcases their impressively accomplished sound, offering up 40 minutes of melodic emo laced with heavier moments. Fans of the genre are going to have an absolute blast with this record.

On the album, Decay appear to take influence from North American emo and pop punk bands, but add a dash of North West England to the mix. While the record has an American sound, on some songs you can hear an unmistakably Scouse twang in vocalist Daniel Reposar’s delivery – a real breath of fresh air in a genre where many British bands adopt a quasi-Californian accent. Not that bands putting on an American accent is necessarily a bad thing – countless great British bands have done it – but it does mean that Decay set themselves apart, recording something that could only have been created by a band from Merseyside.

Reposar is a force of nature on this record. Whether he is bellowing his lungs out or singing in a more reserved manner, his vocal lines are almost always brilliantly delivered. The lyrics, penned by Reposar in collaboration with drummer Toby Hacking, are equally superb, dealing with weighty topics including death, grief, and heartbreak. This combination of lyrical nous and deftly delivered vocals makes for incredibly memorable vocal lines that stick in your head for hours after you last heard them. That counts double for the choruses on the album. Decay really know their way around a chorus, and once you’ve heard the ones on this album a few times, you’ll feel like you’ve known them forever. On top of this, the instrumentation on the album is melodic, and complements the vocal lines well. Guitarist Nathan Peloe switches between high end, picked sections and strummed, heavier sections, providing a solid musical canvas for Reposar’s anguished vocals.

Opening track ‘Staring at the Sun’ is an absolute burst of summery energy, and is far more positive and upbeat than many of the tracks on the record. Reposar says that the record is supposed to represent the ebb and flow of human emotion from ‘the highest of highs to the lowest of lows’. This song is indisputably the highest of highs emotionally speaking. It sounds joyous and carefree, not a theme that continues throughout the record.

Follow up track ‘September 27th’ immediately drops the listener into a much darker place, as Resposar wails ‘I’ll bite my tongue to spite my mouth’. The song is dark yet melodic, and the way the instruments and vocals sit alongside each other on this track is outstanding. On ‘Ache’ – the album’s standout track – the band pivot towards a post-hardcore sound. The verses are pacy, while the choruses are melodic and anthemic, with a memorable vocal line. Throughout the song the rhythm section is superb, with Hacking on drums and Matthew Pickford on bass.

The album has a pacy start, but ‘Feel Better’ brings the tempo right down. The song switches between quiet, fingerpicked verses where Reposar delivers intimate lyrics concerning struggles with mental health, and a bombastic, anthemic chorus. Despite the memorable vocal hooks in the chorus, it still retains the emotional weight of the verses, as Reposar sings “I’ve been trying almost every day / to make myself feel better / but nothing ever seems to work / it just changes like the weather”.

Lead single ‘Comfortable’ boldly placed right at the end of the record, is one of the heaviest songs on the record. It flies out of the speakers at pace and doesn’t let up for the entirety of its 3 minute run-time. Ditching the more melodic vocal style on show across the rest of the record, Reposar’s voice strains as he bellows ‘I feel so uncomfortably comfortable in my own skin’. ‘10.23’ brings the album to a slow yet melancholic ending. It’s easy to see the words to this song being enthusiastically sung back by fans in a live environment – it would make a fantastic closer to Decay’s set when they embark on a headline tour in support of this record.

If ‘Staring at the Sun’ is any indicator of the level of quality Decay will deliver on future releases, they have a bright future ahead of them. They have created an accomplished emo record that is made even more remarkable when you consider that it’s their debut full-length. If Decay can land a few slots supporting some titans of the emo world once the live music industry gets going again, don’t be surprised when they start attracting a big following.

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