Dreamers give pop some teeth, before promptly muzzling it.
Pop, previously seen as a dirty word among guitar-wranglers and the alternative, has had something of an image renaissance in the past few years. You’d be hard pressed to find a band now a days who didn’t have a couple of spins of Prince, Madonna, or even Taylor Swift’s 1989 under their belt.
Dreamers are a band that clearly likes to dabble in the cheery pomp of the popular realms of music. Their debut album This Album Does Not Exist pulls no punches on handclaps, soaring choruses and high pitched backing vocals. It’s all very old-school in that aspect, and the song structures all chain themselves to the classic verse-chorus-verse-chorus-middle-eight-chorus conventions, with a bit of deviation.
What isn’t so old-school is the production. Dreamers classify themselves as grunge-pop, and this shows in the guitars that occupy the tracks. On tracks like Drugs, they dift around under Nick Wolds vocals like a far off siren, before exploding into a, unfortunately bog-standard, distortion. The drums are punky and punchy, the bass slaps hard against the tracks with a crunchy distortion punctuating it’s relentless chugging.
It’s all a bit ‘playing out of your mums garage’ in that department, but the extra touches prevent it all from becoming tedious. Closing track Little New Moon has some of the cheesiest crystal synths ever laid to tape played over a talk-box derivative of the lead vocals. And it works. It’s the best thing on the whole record. It sticks out like a sore-thumb, and that’s what pop should do.
The album needs more of it, because unfortunately, each track blends into the other. It’s not so much as a song cycle, it’s more a song recycle. This Album Does Not Exist comes across as a record where every track wants to be a single, but tries too hard to achieve that. With records like the Cure’s Head on the Door and Killers’ Hot Fuss it’s achieved by each track being extremely well written and poppy, but with enough difference between them to keep each individual track memorable.
This isn’t to say Dreamers first foray into the Long Player is a bad one; it’s just there, existing. It sounds more like Pop-Punk Goes 80’s compilations and One Direction b-sides than the more hard-hitting acts it wants to sound like. It’s an okay start, and with some more honed songwriting the band could do something pretty decent.
Oh, and the album title is pretty awful.
This Album Does Not Exist is due August 26 via Fairfax Recordings.