RCA Records, 1999
REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 07/03/2000
Sometimes, it takes more than one sitting to really appreciate an album. There might be some nuances that you just don't catch the first time around, but the more comfortable you get with the disc, the more you'll tend to recognize them.
Well, I've been listening to Daydreamin' from Before Dark now for the better part of two weeks - I honestly think I've listened to this disc 10 times, and I still think I'm missing something. Why? Simple: I'm not finding myself overimpressed with this Los Angeles-based female R&B trio. It's got some moments to it, but overall, it's like I've heard this all before.
The trio - Mia, Arike and Jeni G. - do know how to work some magical vocal harmony into their music. If only they utilized it a little more instead of singing in unison on certain parts of the album. Tracks like "As Far As They Know" could have had much more impact than just being your typical hip-hop-fused R&B that seems to perpetuate the market today.
Oh, but there are times that Before Dark proves they're worth the attention. "Monica" is a killer track, and is rightfully selected as the first single off of Daydreamin'. With an infectious beat, a catchy chorus and powerful vocal performances throughout, you can't do anything but like this track - and don't be surprised if you find yourself going back to this one performance often. Likewise, tracks such as "Always On My Mind" and "It's All About You" demonstrate the power that Before Dark has, and just how good they can be when they choose to utilize it.
The second half of Daydreamin' makes the unfortunate decision of dipping a little too far into the world of hip-hop, with spoken-word interludes really wrecking the progress the trio seems to be making. The advances of tracks like "Tough Love" are quickly erased by the failed experiments of "Push-N-Shove" and "Back Around", ending the album on a disappointing note.
And while I can't say I was crazy about the theme of the album - having the girls go to the movies - it does serve as a means of breaking the album into two halves, providing a more definite line that can be drawn between the stellar material and the songs which aren't quite as strong.
Daydreamin' is still very much a first effort from Before Dark, and given some time and seasoning they could well develop into one of the more influential R&B vocal groups around. But this disc shows these young ladies still need to find their niche, wherever it may lie. Until then, this disc has its moments, but is a tentative first step.