I recently had a little moan about bands who are getting dream pop ALL WRONG and, more specifically, how Still Corners were the perpetrators. Now obviously there’s an element of hyperbole hidden somewhere in that last sentence, but my feelings stand. Perhaps it’s the creeping influence of “chillwave” or those most laid-back of dream pop-eers, Beach House, but somewhere along the way the genre’s characteristic foggy haziness has been substituted for something approaching fuggy laziness (I am very pleased with that phrase, by the way).
As far as I’m concerned, if you’re simply making one-track, wispy, contemplative music, you’re not fulfilling the remit. Beach House might be quiet, but they also utilise catchy hooks, soaring vocals and forthright percussion. M83 might be described as dream pop, but if you listen to ‘Midnight City’ it’s pretty loud in general. There’s a saxophone solo in it for god’s sake (something I may disagree with on a moral level, but helps to illustrate my point). These are both dream pop bands, and yet they trade in something beyond the base level. Still Corners, on the other hand, have made an album that assumes its perceived dream pop status by paper-thin vocals, gentle organs and reverb-slathered drumbeats – all well and good in and of themselves but the problem is in assuming so many characteristics, Still Corners’ own character seems just as washed out – technically invoked but not emotionally earned.
They could learn a thing or two from Mint Julep who, in my opinion, have confirmed their status as a great dream pop band in one song, as compared to Still Corners’ ten. With Keith Kenniff, a man described by his PR as “the brains behind dulcet ambient/electronic practitioners Helios and piano minimalists Goldmund”, at the helm, you might expect something similarly low-key. The first twenty seconds of ‘Days Gone By’ prove that theory dead wrong. A flat, powerful beat precedes a pulse of snarling, distorted guitar which themselves precede Hollie Kenniff’s gracefully echoing vocals and stadium synthwork. Embracing the pop as much as the dream, this is a perfect example of a band unafraid to be loud as well as conceptually interesting – an impulse all too uncommon at the moment.