, March 30th, 2012 06:37
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. In opener 'Vague Hotel' singer Doran Edwards laments, "I live in a bullshit building where the party never stops / I’m frowning because this town is just a hotel filled with nothing much". A Chris Isaak-style tremolo guitar kicks in, just to highlight the listlessness of it all.
Yes, this is yet another chillwave album. An album so typical of the genre that it even has the audacity to use the word "polaroid" in a lyric. What rescues it from mediocrity, however, is the flawlessly melodic melancholy of Edwards’ voice. When he sings “I love the way you hurt me, hurt me so bad” he reaches closer to Brian Wilson than any of his fellow acolytes have come in a long time. Pet Sounds is undoubtedly the key influence here, but where Wilson is lyrically earnest and naïve, Choreography is impeded by its self-conscious disaffection. 'Little Girl' jars, because the album is not youthful enough to use the term convincingly; the address verges on patronising. There are shimmers of euphoric indie pop in places. 'Summer Black' twinkles with the driving rhythms of sixties girl groups and Motown, and then there are the infectious off-kilter surf guitars of 'Holding Nails'. But these moments prove few and far between.
The band members were initially united by a mutual love of David Lynch - an influence that they set out to weave into their music. Pleasant as Choreography undoubtedly is, it's too prosaic to live up to its these aspirations. If you are going to call your band something as suggestive as Weird Dreams you must deliver more than the sound of Josh Hartnett on a lilo. I want the dancing dwarf. I want the lady in the radiator. I want Dean Stockwell miming 'In Dreams'. If they can leave behind the mundane infatuation with dissatisfied suburbanites and develop some genuine Lynchian weirdness, then they possess the tools to create something stronger in the future.