Thursday, April 5, 2012

Weird Dreams Rock My World: A Review Of Choreography

I had this promo download for weeks and didn't bother to play it until Pitchfork used the term "power pop" in their review of Choreography by Weird Dreams.

Expecting something like The Knack, or Shoes, I played the record. Well, it's not like those bands at all. Frankly, it's a lot better.

A dash of The Feelies, a touch of Vampire Weekend, a hint of Pavement -- what the hell is going on here? What is this sound?

One listen to "Suburban Coated" had me sold. Like Field Music, the guys in Weird Dreams are taking familiar pieces of other bands and making a decidedly shimmery form of modern pop. I can hear a sad spin on XTC in this track, and a reference to Talking Heads or two, but it's just a lovely and heartbreakingly beautiful song.

If the Beach Boys tried to cover Ride, it would sound like this.

That Vampire Weekend vibe is back on "Creatures" but the harmonies echo the Beach Boys, again. Still, rather than sound like a contrived gimmick, the genre mixing works here. Weird Dreams sound like a band who want to sound like this.

What I mean is that there's a level of effort here -- and that's okay -- but the London lads in Weird Dreams make it sound effortless and natural. "Hurts So Bad" rides in on a wave of chiming guitar chords and a Peter Hook-in-1981-bassline and the song charms without sounding forced. Like The Drums, these guys are experts at mining the past for little treasures that they sprinkle through their pop-work now.

That sort of effort would be worthless if the results weren't so catchy.

"Holding Nails" reminds me of The Cars. If they had ditched their synths and picked up "real" instruments. And "Little Girl" has a slinky guitar line that recalls pre-Beatles pop in America.

The guys in Weird Dreams namecheck David Lynch as an inspiration and, like that director, they take the familiar and repurpose it.

I can't say that you haven't heard stuff like this before. But I can say that Weird Dreams are doing something fresh with these things. They are making something charming, warm, sad, and tuneful out of a few familiar influences.

It's a case of leaving out the unnecessary bits. There's just enough here to get a listener hooked. And I'm hooked.

Choreography is out now on Tough Love Records.

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