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Initially serving as a repository for the residual fall out deemed too flimsy for Cloud Nothings drummer Jayson Gerwycz and his roommate Chris Brown's noise-rock project Swindella, Ohio trio Total Babes released their garage punk debut Swimming Through Sunlight back in 2011 only to drop off the radar almost as quickly as they appeared. Output from the trio may have since been sparse, but that's not for a want of work ethic; rather the complete opposite as Gerwycz and Cloud Nothings managed to squeeze a couple of albums and a barbaric tour schedule ("it was insane, we're never doing that again" vowed frontman Dylan Baldi) into the ensuing two years. Although their industriousness hasn't dimmed much, Gerwycz and Brown have managed to find time to ready Heydays, the 8 track mini album follow-up featuring guest spots from Cleveland DIY scene luminaries such as Emeralds' John Elliott (synth), Smooth Brain's Nathan Ward (bass) and Baldi himself (saxophone).

Like its predecessor, Heydays clocks in slightly over the 30 minute mark, but where the incessant fuzz of Swimming Through Sunlight felt too one paced and ended up exhausting itself out by the midway point, Heydays puts the breaks on and switches things up. On album opener 'Blurred Time', Gerwycz' breakneck drum fills and Brown's razor sharp guitar lines are mitigated by day-glo keyboards, while the sunkissed indie pop of the album title track almost sounds like it could have been borne from the mind of Real Estate's Matt Mondanile. The jarring guitars and space echo soundscapes of 'Bone Dry Eyes' still pack a percussive wallop, but also benefit from a less muddy, higher clarity mix.

Back in 2009 when Cloud Nothings were still nothing, Baldi was in college majoring in saxophone only to take the prescient step of dropping out to focus fully on his song writing. Circling opens with cavernous bass notes and a gritty syncopated drum rhythm before being scored with Baldi's schizo free-jazz sax licks and Elliott's intergalactic synth - the tracks vibrancy and bouncy freneticism lending the impression that it was bespoke for the Tony Hawks Pro Skater video game series. Immediately after the chaos, the sunny beach pop of 'We'll Come Around' makes for a welcome palette cleanser.

Rather than build to a scorched-earth crescendo, the album's latter section goes in the opposite direction. Ostensibly included to grease the transition from rough to smooth, the piano interlude of 'Sunny Side' feels like a bit of a pointless deus ex machina pacing device, whereas the breezy, acoustic balladry (let's wait for tomorrow, we can live slow, stay in the shade" croons Brown in a hushed cadence) of 'Repeat Gold' is a million miles removed from anything the band have done so far. Closing out the album is the lasciviously titled 'Can I Turn You On?' - its rasping chords and quasi boom-chicka fills reminiscent of Aha Shake Heartbreak-era Kings of Leon.

When listening to both albums side by side, the de facto 4 year hiatus in-between begins to feel like a virtue. As well as giving the group time to sharpen up as musicians (and the hitherto unpresented opportunity to snare Elliott on keys), it's also let them fully realise what they actually want Total Babes to be. Shortly after the release of Swimming Through Sunlight, Brown complained that he was already bored with its songs and admitted the band hadn't considered how it would feel to be bashing out the same garage band combinations a year later (the answer: tedious, if their new material-heavy live sets were anything to go by). With Heydays, they needn't stress about falling into that trap again.

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