There’s a certain nostalgia in the burn-out rock produced by Vancouver locals Dream Cars. Never Let Her Go is the first full length by the band, and a noticeable improvement in quality form their first two EPs that came out in 2014 and 2016. The production takes cues from 80s new wave acts as well as early 90s dream pop guitar stylings throughout the record. The song 1995 balances three decades of musical influence into a style that permeates much of this record. The gated reverb on the drum fills sound like a cut was right out of a Genesis record while the vocals are affected by a certain fuzzy tone that would lend itself well to the garage rock resurgence we’ve seen in recent years.
There’s a certain cheesiness to the album that actually does come of as endearing and authentic rather than an impediment when the band dives into a prettier approach like on the final track of the record 56 Years. The guitar sections are hauntingly and surprisingly gorgeous when they’re not being offset by the goofy synth rhythms and toy-like drum beat. It’s this balance that has become a recent mainstay in contemporary indie rock music with acts like Mac DeMarco and Boy Pablo receiving acclaim.
At times Dream Cars takes their music into vague boundaries of psychedelia with a lethargic onslaught of distortion through various guitar, synth and drum effects. Moments like this on songs such as Rhythm of the Lonely Hearted prove to be low points on the record. Especially when compared to the less convoluted pop forward tracks like Heart of Saturday and Without a Name.
Dream Cars prove that they are capable of taking certain risks in production style. They’re decidedly not emulating other contemporary artists too closely but unfortunately they fall short of achieving anything that can be instantly recognizable as their own unique sound. The band is nostalgic in a way that is reminiscent of other slacker rock groups in a post-Mac DeMarco world, but don’t step out of the crowd quite enough to be venerated. Often times the band feels like they’re going through the proverbial motions like on the track Factory Lad. All of their components are there but it’s missing a definitive personality.
It’s evident that the band has a lot of potential, and are willing to go against the grain (even if only at a 30 degree angle), so hopefully they can keep up their output.
7.0/10 – A short drive with nothing to think about