CD Review of Daylight Kissing Night - Adam Marsland’s Greatest Hits by Adam Marsland
Recommended if you like
Brian Wilson, Fountains of Wayne, Shoes
Label
Karma Frog
Adam Marsland:
Daylight Kissing Night:
Adam Marsland’s
Greatest Hits

Reviewed by Lee Zimmerman

N
ot to get too picky here, but when someone dubs their album a “greatest hits,” there’s a presumption that (A) it does indeed contain your greatest material and (B) more importantly, you’ve actually had some hits. So when Adam Marsland chooses to underscore this career-summing sampler with that subtitle, the obvious question that arises – even before you arrive at “Who exactly is this guy?” – tends to be, “Hits… what hits?”

No matter. Not even Marsland’s relative obscurity (for the record, he was the helmsman of the underappreciated indie outfit Cockeyed Ghost) can diminish the fact that this is one terrific collection. Sadly, there’s not a single song that could even remotely be categorized as a “hit” per se. Still, any slight shift on the earth’s axis, or more precisely, an agreeable nod from radio or MTV, might have easily elevated any one of these selections into pop chart territory. The fact they failed to reach that plateau doesn’t impact their worthiness. Simply put, these songs are so damn good – sorry, make that, so damn great – that even a minimal number of hearings breeds a sense of déjà vu, the feeling that you’ve heard them before. It’s not a matter of plagiarizing, mind you… merely affirmation that Marsland’s hooks are, in fact, instantly indelible.

With 20 songs drawn from the bulk of Marsland’s hefty catalogue – his four albums with Cockeyed Ghost, three solo efforts and a smattering of unreleased add-ons and newly recorded offerings – Daylight Kissing Night not only provides an ample overview of his work to date but plenty of reasons to explore the original albums in their entirety. The range of emotion covers a fairly wide expanse – from the brash insurgent attitude that finds him lashing out at a former lover in “Married Yet” and his sly putdown of a mediocre bar band via “Big Big Yeah,” to his unapologetic ode to Beach Boys harmonies on “Portland” – yet the majesty of his melodies remains constant throughout.

Indeed, Marsland has a knack for churning out rousing, compelling choruses, evidenced in the soaring crescendos of “Other Than Me,” the riveting refrain of “How Can You Stand It” and the irresistible stop-and-go dynamic of “The Big Bear.” Other tunes sweep up the sound with a breathless rush of adrenaline and exhilaration – “Ginna Ling,” “Karma Frog,” “Disappear,” “Neverest” and “Halo Boy” being prime examples. Even on the numbers that find Marsland stripped down with solo accompaniment – acoustic guitar on the skittish “Cut and Run,” piano on the bittersweet ballad “I Can’t Do This Anymore” – the emotion maintained stays as effusive as ever.

Newcomers – and granted, there will be many that fit that category -- will likely want to pay special attention to the tellingly–titled “My Kickass Life,” a song specially recorded for this compilation which offers Marsland’s back story in dramatic detail. “When I was a young punk I said to my dad / I want a life of adventure, not one of indenture, like most people have,” he sings in its opening stanzas. Judging from this superior sampler, Marsland’s well on his way.

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