By looking backward, Dreamcar, the members of No Doubt minus Gwen Stefani, and the lead singer of AFI have crafted what could be the album of the summer. Undeniably catchy, an unapologetically upbeat the album elicits a good time. The anthemic nature of the songs and the catchy hooks will have people singing “All the Dead Girls” all summer long.
Dreamcar is less of a supergroup than a reinvention. Davy Havok channels everyone from Duran Duran to Dead or Alive and even a little Blondie in the spoken word intro for “On the Charts.” From the opening notes of “After I Confessed” with the sparse guitar and goth overtones, and drum pad fills, it is obvious that the guys in the band are having fun. The refrain, “my ghost is yours” and the creepy chanting to finish the song, “she said, let me love you,” shows that the guys are not striving for the gravity of Love and Rockets or the seriousness of Sisters of Mercy or Bauhaus, this is firmly in the goth-lite of the Haunted Mansion. No one is going to be scared here, we are all winking and tongue is firmly in cheek.
Davy’s John Water’s mustache and pink suits say it all. Dreamcar is fully embracing the 80’s, kitsch and all. “Kill for Candy” starts off minor, but quickly gives in to happy major keys and never looks back. It is that playful back and forth that makes this song a joy. The Jesus and Mary Chain echo of the guitar is set in opposition to the happy refrain, complete with overdubbed harmonies.
Adrian Young’s confident drums dance with Tony Kanal’s playful bouncing bassline on “All the Dead Girls” producing a song that is so catchy that it commands your attention. Firmly in The Cure’s “Love Cats” zone of transcendently happy, this song stays with you long after it is over. You cannot help but hum and sing it to yourself for the rest of the day. It’s true brilliance lies in the dichotomy created by the morbid lyrics against the hyper-upbeat nature of the song.
“Slip On the Moon” brings the pace down a bit, providing the album’s first true slow jam. Punctuated by punchy keys, the song builds to a crescendo. The song rises and falls a few times before breaking down to a militaristic drum roll, before exploding one last time with Davy crooning “I will wait for you” high above the driving finish. “Show me Mercy” is a perfect closer bringing it back down again, Havok’s lyrics taking on an ethereal echo, riding the music like a wave. This song also employs the perfect 80’s drum fill. It slowly fades, stripping off one instrument after another until all that is left is a hum.
Dreamcar draws from many sources of 80’s inspiration but always manages to make their sound uniquely their own. Certainly danceable, this album is a fun time, and will surely become a mainstay throughout the summer.
Watch the video for “Kill for Candy”: