dark dreams, eerie synths and silence [single reviews]

DREAMS – “Silence”: Ryan reviewed the debut single from Daniel Johns and Luke Steele just a few weeks back, and while “No One Defeats Us” is a statement, it’s the blasting cadence of “Silence” that will truly put this duo on the map. Johns sings straight from the gut on the track’s verses, making a fine contrast with his syncopated shouts on the chorus. Meanwhile, the frenetic track alternates between the classic synth-pop sound of the ‘80s and the nasty industrial leanings of the ‘90s, exemplifying the best of both of these worlds.

Years & Years – “Sanctify”: Juxtaposition is the name of the game on the new single from British synth-pop group, Years & Years. The dark synths give off an eerie vibe, but frontman Olly Alexander is vocally much more reminiscent of the boy bands that ruled the late ‘90s and early 2000s. The more interesting juxtaposition lies in the lyrics though, where Alexander alludes to BDSM and longs to sanctify his body “with pain,” a word combination that many may not expect to see (or hear) together. Add in similar word choices (i.e., “heavenly” and “pray”), and “Sanctify” proves to be one of the more uniquely-written songs of its kind.

Ben Howard – “A Boat to an Island on the Wall”: A friend of mine from college first introduced English singer-songwriter Ben Howard’s music to me some 3+ years ago. The song he played for me has remained one of my favorites to this day, and while many of Howard’s other cuts simply don’t stack up to “Oats in the Water” for me, his new single comes incredibly close. The lengthy, heady “A Boat to an Island on the Wall” is a 7-minute epic that starts out soft, and gradually builds throughout, before roaring guitars eventually take the forefront and stay for the remainder of the track.

Son Lux – “Dream State (Dark Day)” (featuring WILLS): “Dream State” was by far one of the high points for me from the latest Son Lux LP Brighter Wounds, and in many ways, this rendition feels like its best manifestation—the electronics are filthier, nastier, and eerier, while WILLS’ rich baritone fits the instrumentation even more so than Ryan Lott’s higher register, resulting in both an R&B and industrial vibe. Without this higher register, the falsetto Lott belts out at the very end of the original is notably absent, but that—along with the brief saxophone lick at the beginning—is the only thing I really miss on “Dream State (Dark Day).”

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