Mosaic / Music / Reviews / October 8, 2009

Dreamdate toes the line of mediocrity

Social networking websites can be at once a boon and curse for young musical groups. Bands like Dreamdate, who rely on such sites for hype, can tell you that it is a good, if not necessarily easy way, to gain a wider audience. Unfortunately for Dreamdate and their ilk, reliance on MySpace can mean competing with countless other groups with the same sound. With their sophomore album “Patience,” Dreamdate valiantly attempts to distinguish themselves from the pack of sugary-sweet, lo-fi indie bands that roam the electronic wilds today, but ultimately falls short of their goal.

The album’s strong points are the same as its weak points; that is, Dreamdate specializes in poppy but subdued love songs, some of which hit the mark, many that come close and one or two that simply fall flat. Tunes like “How Low Are You” and “8 Sleeves” are a good example of the first category: quick-paced and filled with sing-along hooks and choruses, music that wouldn’t be out of place on a care-free summer day. The eponymous “Patience” is another treat. Not too poppy, but not too mellow, the titular track is, as one reviewer put it, the kind of light-hearted song “perfect to cuddle to.”

Then, of course, there are songs that fall in the last category. One such song, “Go Fish,” is a poorly executed mish-mash of children’s rhymes and a hyper-saccharine chorus that attempts to be playful and fun, but the band’s low-key style actively works against such an outcome. The singers sound almost bored as they work their way through the song, and the children’s rhymes, usually spoken instead of sung, translate poorly to a more melodic medium. Immediately following “Go Fish” is the similarly disappointing “Anyway.” To the band’s credit, they try to shake up the mix by injecting some brass into their lo-fi pop, but the horn sounds weak and pathetic when it is brought to bear with the group’s subdued sound.

The album’s other eight tracks are, unfortunately, rather run-of-the-mill. They are not bad songs, but neither are they great, gestating instead in a state of mediocrity. They are the kind of songs that, while fun to listen to in the moment, are soon forgotten.

In fitting with the band’s pop sound, the majority of the album is the musical equivalent of cotton candy; the fluffy wisps of song are sweet for a fleeting moment, but all too soon dissolve into a certain insubstantiality — more the memory of sweetness than the actuality thereof. If one is looking for catchy, lo-fi indie-pop, one could do worse than to give Dreamdate a try, but then again, one could do a whole lot better as well.

Dan Dyrda

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