Dream Pop seems to be all the rage at the moment, and ‘Vows’ from the US are a good example of it. Blending psychedelia with easy listening but schizophrenic pop melodies, their latest self-titled EP takes you on a journey into someone else’s insanely imaginative head, throws you around a bit inside, and then spits you out the other end, making you wonder what exactly it is you just listened to. And I like that.
Similar to Radstewart who I reviewed a couple of weeks ago, Vows are all about strong, charismatic vocals that carry over the intentionally atonal and chaotic music. As the guitars and keyboard slip away from the notes your ears want to hear, you are drawn to the voice that somehow finds melodies that you never would have heard, and when it all comes back to the chorus in songs like ‘Waste’, which has a great, powerful synth that chimes above everything, you get that shiver down your spine kind of feeling that is oh so satisfying.
On the other hand, whereas songs like ‘Blackfish’ and ‘Waste’ are relatively in-your-face and an assault on the senses in terms of how complicated they are, the truly excellent ‘Hotel On A Holiday’ is a stripped back, simple, waltz/blues -like number that pins all emphasis on the vocals, and contrasts wonderfully with what we have heard up to this point. There is a great deal of character to this music – and it’ll either be one that you like, or one that you’ll loathe.
Dissonance followed by resolve is a powerful tool in music, and these guys do it in spades. Not only in the at-times painful conflict between the keys, guitar and the voice (which is fine in small chunks), but look at the record as a whole, and you’ll find that this carries on in to the track listing; which is very clever. The first two tracks provide the chaos and the dreaminess that sets up the feel of the EP, the middle three tracks provide the calm and more predictable pop elements that encourage you to keep listening, and then the last track finally returns back to the abstract concept. This EP is well balanced. A record that shoved the ‘dream pop idea’ down your throat would have been too much, whilst an EP like the middle section might not have stood out half as much as it currently does. As it stands, however, it’s this interplay between the two that makes this EP far impressive than it easily could have been, and it shows the thought that has gone into its production.
At the end of the day, even if a formula for a song works and that’s what ‘makes you’ as a band, fans will start noticing and get bored of it eventually, so why not start early and try your hand at different styles? Who knows what will come out.
Music like this is pretty out there, and although it might sit okay with true music lovers like 6Music who play music almost no matter the style (bless their souls), Vows face a tough battle if they want to turn this into a long lasting and stable career. It’s the curse of the genre, but at least their music is pretty damn good.