Release Date: May 12, 2017
Record label: Columbia
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, New Wave/Post-Punk Revival
Seeming to spring out of nowhere, DREAMCAR is a collaboration between AFI lead singer Davey Havok and No Doubt members guitarist Tom Dumont, bassist Tony Kanal, and drummer Adrian Young. The story goes that, looking to try something else outside of No Doubt (with singer Gwen Stefani occupied with solo work and her duties as a judge on The Voice), Kanal invited longtime acquaintance Havok to work on new material. Crafted in secrecy over roughly a two-year period with producer Tim Pagnotta (Neon Trees, Walk the Moon), DREAMCAR's eponymous 2017 debut is a vibrant, new wave-tinged effort that brings to mind the effusive, neon-toned dance-rock of iconic '80s bands like Duran Duran, the Cure, and Adam and the Ants.
When legends collide. Featuring the voice of AFI and everything but the voice of No Doubt, Dreamcar are something of a modern-day supergroup – one the world didn't realise it was missing, admittedly. Bearing the smart but dark pop hallmarks of bands like The Cure and Echo And The Bunnymen, it's astonishing how the L.A. foursome's fusion of disco, funk and hot gothic takes sounds so fresh in 2017, 30-odd years after that stuff's heyday. It's a riot throughout though, with particular praise due to the fetishistic-fantasy swing of 'All The Dead Girls'.
One would be hard-pressed to count all the hats Davy Havok has worn in the 20-plus years since his career took off as the frontman of that shape-shifting creature called AFI. From hardcore punk to devil-locked goth to bespoke rock'n'roll star, Havok has shown a remarkable ability to inhabit every archetype he can dream up, stepping into each with a swagger that carries just a whiff of Bowie's many reinventions. Even before he formed the electronic duo Blaqk Audio and the straight edge hardcore group XTRMST (both with AFI guitarist Jade Puget), it seemed as if Havok had manned the mic for a dozen different bands.
If you've listened to Davey Havok's work on Blaqk Audio, and more so, what he put out on the last AFI record, then a lot of what Dreamcar's self-titled debut has to offer won't come as any surprise. Davey loves to move out comfort zones and here, he finds himself making a new wave tribute to 80's bands like The Cure, New Order and The Smiths with the members of No Doubt (minus Gwen Stefani). As enterprising as it gets, and off the bat it really is a charmer, it does end up a bit boring toward the end.