Release Date: Apr 2, 2012
Record label: Tough Love
The usual argument that’s put forth to dismiss a standard four piece guitar format tilts between these: either their ideas are distributed too broadly across the map, or they’re a blatant facsimile of a pioneering band that should remain better left untouched. Yes, it’s tough to change the musical landscape with a clever hook or a guitar crunch these days. And in this age of immediacy, what was once thought of as a crowning example of superiority becomes a mirror image with a young, highly skilled replicator.
Is there a crueler mistress in rock'n'roll than jangly power pop? For people of a certain generation (and those who wish they were born in it), there is no purer form of pop music-- the gilded group harmonies, the pristine hooks, the ringing Rickenbacker chords that are the very definition of perfect sound forever. It's a music that sounds like the eternal promise and euphoria of youth-- and yet, it's a strain of rock music that hasn't been purchased by teenagers in large quantities since, oh, 1965, while some of the more valiant but failed attempts to revive it on mass level have driven its adherents to career-killing seclusion (see: Lee Mavers of the La's), suicide (half of Badfinger), or reactionary psychobilly records (Alex Chilton). But, in spite of the genre's no-hope commercial prospects and oddly tragic history, there are always new recruits who entrust themselves with the daunting task of breathing new life into an almost 50-year-old artform.
Weird Dreams aren't quite as odd as they make themselves out to be, despite a casual reference to "666" or naming a jaunty little tune "River of the Damned." Choreography is an album that owes its very existence to the twin pillars of The Beatles and The Beach Boys, the kind of retro jangle-pop people listen to when reminiscing about the glories of summers past. .
Surfing on a wave of Beach Boys-inspired psych-jaunts and cooing doo-wop harmonies, Weird Dreams’ debut is awash with pop’s primary colours. Yet ‘Choreography’ is more than a watered-down pastiche of its influences. Instead, the east Londoners have conquered where others have since failed: scoring pop in all its simple pleasures for an instant, enjoyable and intelligible record.
Warbly tapes sounds, catchy guitar, hand claps and a beating drum. So far so en vogue and that’s just the album opener ‘Vague Hotel’. And so far so straight-forward biography-wise - Weird Dreams have played the music game properly. They have released two EPs: the debut on cassette for drummer Craig Bowers' own imprint Sleep All Day records, and the darker Hypnagogic Lullaby on vinyl, plus a single ‘Holding Nails’, stirring up significant interest in their sounds.
From their post punk roots you’d be hard pressed to find many that could of predicted Weird Dreams’ musical trajectory. Yet the band has learned that the power of a glorious melody can dwarf all other tools in ones armoury.From previous releases we’ve already come across the likes of up tempo ‘Faceless’, as well as the swooning ‘Holding Nails’ & ‘Hurt So Bad‘. So firstly, the level of song writing dexterity should be apparent to all who tracked the London four piece’s progression from the back end of 2010.And at its best ‘Choreography’ is tailor made alternative pop of the highest degree, with enough ear friendly, sing-a-long melodies to entice even the ‘older’ generation.
On first listen Weird Dreams' debut album triggers a dormant memory: Josh Hartnett in swimming trunks lying on a lilo in The Virgin Suicides. The image - which was lost in a dusty corner of my memory - returns to me vividly. He is pretty but vacant, beautiful, but oh so sad. Choreography is the soundtrack to a suburban summer of ennui: Bret Easton Ellis novels (characters called Rip, Trip and Kip), The Beach Boys on barbiturates, songs for good-looking nihilists and serotonin-stripped hedonists.