It’s truly amazing how music impacts our lives, how it can speak to each of us, compelling us to dance, think, smile, and much more. This next album makes me experience all of these actions and emotions. Beautifully written musically and lyrically, Dream The Electric Sleep has given us a contemporary masterpiece.
Based in Kentucky, Dream the Electric Sleep consists of Matt Page on vocals/guitar/keys, Joey Waters on drums, Chris Tackett on bass guitar, and Andrew Hibpshman on guitar. Ultimately a mixture of indie, post-rock and progressive rock, the band also expands into moments of shoegaze, folk, and pop. Receiving praise as one of the premier post-prog rock bands of our time from several magazines, the band’s newest album “Heretics” has become one of my favorite finds this year.
After searching this band, I’ve had the opportunity to read the artist’s note on this album. Surprised by this, Dream The Electric Sleep is one of few bands that I’ve seen that has shared their thoughts and process towards their work. “Heretics” is much more than a catchy tune, a repeatable chorus, and an applause at the end. This album can easily be explored musically, lyrically, and conceptually. I must confess that exploring all these themes in full detail will take too much time, but I would like to graze on all these subjects in this post. More beautifully written than I ever could is the band’s interpretation of their own album, and can be viewed here.
To describe “Heretics” in one word, it’s “passion.” Passion is easily felt in all three categories: musically, lyrically, and conceptually. Clocking in at almost 70 minutes, the listener can feel the significance of each guitar solo, each drum hit, and each falsetto voice. The album is orchestrated wonderfully, breaking up harder riffs with acoustic interludes. Reminiscent of harder works by the bands Lydia and Everest, “Heretics” is perfect in organizing the softer rhythms with the harder licks. Filled with bluesy solos and acoustic chords, songs like “To Love is to Leave” and “I Know What You Are” are great tracks in displaying Dream the Electric Sleep’s versatility. Page’s voice is a great match for the range in sound, as his voice shifts from deep lows to soaring highs. Page reminds me of a voice part Jeff Buckley, part Roger Waters, and part Chris Cornell, a rather high complement coming from me since all three artists have been mentioned in my blog in the past. The listener can feel the dissatisfaction of the concept’s main character in Page’s voice during the second verse in the song “It Must Taste Good”:
“Made fools out of us / Laid thousands in the dust / It must feel good / So damn good to you / But it’s never good enough” (source)
My favorite aspect of this album musically is the rhythms generated by Page’s electric and acoustic guitar. Acting as the mediator between the album’s softer and heavier sounds, I cannot get enough of the slightly indie, yet slightly progressive rhythms throughout “Heretics.” With the addition of sound manipulation and other guitar effects, the structure for each song leaves me anticipating the next.
Conceptually, “Heretics” revolves loosely around a fictional woman and her struggle in life. Without getting political, the entire album perfectly portrays the desire we have to stand for what we believe in, and the toll that it may have on one’s life. One can take a guess on the significance of the concept from the album cover alone, picturing some of the most influential women who ever lived. Whether you are conservative or liberal, one cannot argue with the amount of struggle these women faced, and the impact they have had on our lives. Like these women, “Heretics” is a contemporary statement to the struggles we all face, and how the decisions we make can alter our future.
I highly recommend this album to those who seek to be mentally stimulated through music, since “Heretics” can be listened to in so many ways and can result in a different interpretation each time. For those seeking musical comparisons, I recommend this band to those who are fans of indie rock and progressive rock bands like Muse, Lydia, The Appleseed Cast, and Anubis. I would ask that each of you try to approach this album as the band intended: to listen to the music, the lyrics, and the concept separately. A perfect quote to sum up their feelings for their album is given from the band on their website:
“I was certainly aware of the difficulties of asking so much from a listener, and I never fully expected it all to come together in a neat package. In this way maybe the album fails due to its murky nature and confused cues, but I do hope and believe failure can be a productive, generative space in the long term and I hope that this is the case for this work as well.”
Please support this band by visiting their Bandcamp page, where you can get your FREE download of this breathtaking album. You can also visit them on their website and Twitter for their latest updates on their follow-up album, which is planned to start the recording process in May.