Friday, 18 March 2011

Album Review: Dream Diary - You Are The Beat

[Kanine Records, 2011]

Dream Diary sound exactly like a Sarah Records band. Exactly. This whole review will be trying to determine whether that is a good thing or a bad thing. If you already have strong views on Sarah-style jangly guitars, sickly-sweet melodies and breathy vocals, you don't really have a reason to read further - it's already clear whether you'll like it or not.

The supposed story of how the band met also seems to be trying to live up to the indiepop ideal. Apparently the lead singer and guitarist walked into each other on the street in New York, both dropping their iPods, only to realise that they were both listening to 'The Queen Is Dead'. Whether you believe this or not, it's a good story, and one that illustrates that from the very start the band were built on a fairly standard set of influences - you can hear all the various quintessential indiepop touchstones in the album somewhere, from the Ronettes to the Field Mice.

They do it all pretty well, and despite the first few listens falling into the standard Sarah trap and lapsing into aural wallpaper, with no real differentiation between the songs, after a while you really get to know and love pretty much everything on here. Young Veronica and El Lissitzky are probably my favourites, but they all have the same structure and ingredients, with just the melodies and lyrics changing. The guitar tones just don't change at all for the whole 30-odd minutes, which means as an album as a whole it is definitely missing something - there are definitely echoes of POBPAH's debut on here, but it has nowhere near the scope that that record had. It's quite hard to make out most of the lyrics - there's one much-repeated line on the album closer Audrey Of Spirits that I'm absolutely certain is 'sucking my penis' but that surely can't be - which only adds to the overall wallpaper-ness. You just can't deny the quality of the harmonies, which is all this record really aims for.

Fundamentally, you'd probably be better off listening to Primal Scream's 'Velocity Girl' 10 times in a row instead. But that could be said about a lot of albums. Dream Diary have managed to craft a fine album, continuing a very obvious tradition, and there's nothing wrong with that. It's never going to be anyone's favourite album, but I can't think of anyone not enjoying it.

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