Since the popularisation of vintage rags, 35mm film and polaroid’s, 1980’s hazy tones and authentic retro sounds have re-emerged in music through the genre of dream pop.
Dream pop is “an atmospheric subgenre of alternative rock that relies on sonic textures as much as melody” (Reddit/Urban Dictionary). Think musicians such as Mac Demarco, Alvvays, Tame Impala, Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Japanese Breakfast, Beach House, Beach Fossils, Cults, Bantug and The xx. A new form of dream pop “takes the original ‘60s influences but with doses of ‘80s post-punk, ‘90s alt-rock, and ‘00s indie-rock” (Obscure Sound).
Of course, the most dream pop sensation of them all, DeMarco’s 2014 album, Salad Days, does not disappoint with the vast array of synths and guitar strung lullabies. What is arguably the soundtrack of dream pop heaven, there are no favourites here.
- Salad Days
- Blue Boy
- Let Her Go
- Goodbye Weekend
- Let My Baby Stay
- Passing Out Pieces
- Treat Her Better
- Chamber of Reflection
- Go Easy
- Jonny’s Odyssey
DeMarco’s slowed down synthesizer for a dimly-set vibe on the single Another One, off the album of the same name, carefully caresses your ears and gently rocks your heart. The bouncy synths that appear from the song’s outro seem reminiscent of a 1980’s pop film world, akin to a dreamer’s state of mind.
The so-called “revivalist genre” – dream pop, sees the likes of the sonic band Alvvays. The Canadian’s self-titled debut record consists of ethereal, escapist tracks such as Adult Diversion, Archie, Marry Me, and Next of Kin.
Alvvays songs are heavily characterised by lead vocalist Molly Rankin’s feathery and resounding voice against the soft rock of the guitar and synth keyboards. The band’s indie-pop, up-in-the-clouds atmosphere is being successfully carried on into their new album, Antisocialites, set for release on September 8. Thus far, two transporting singles have been released, Dreams Tonite and In Undertow; the latter providing polychromatic retro video cassette images.
Further into the collated rock throwback genre is the Australian band, Tame Impala, fronted by Kevin Parker. Tame Impala are a group that completely divulge their music, visuals, and all round artistry into the sonic textures in the sphere of dream pop. It would prove difficult to name just a few songs from the band’s discography that show the range of their climatic instrumentals and space-like audio that has sent waves from the very beginning.
The band’s first album, InnerSpeaker, includes cosmic alt-rock songs recalling on the ‘60s with tracks such as Desire Be Desire Go, Alter Ego, Lucidity, Why Won’t You Make Up Your Mind?, Solitude is Bliss, Expectation, Runway Houses City Clouds, I Don’t Really Mind, Sundown Syndrome, Remember Me and Half Full Glass of Wine.
The creative minds of Kevin Parker, Jay Watson and the entire band went on to make what can only be perceived as a masterclass in the subgenre of dream pop. Lonerism came 2 years later using vintage photography album art. Apocalypse Dreams, Mind Mischief, Music To Walk Home By, Feels Like We Only Go Backwards, Keep On Lying, Elephant, Sun’s Coming Up and Nothing That Has Happened So Far Has Been Anything We Could Control are merely some of the group’s atmospheric tracks.
Prismatic and psychedelic moving images remain to be a popular choice within the revivalist genre and for Tame Impala through to their Currents album.
Unknown Mortal Orchestra continuously provide chilled and sweet jazzy music traversing into the dream pop realm. With songs such as Necessary Evil and Multi-Love, from the self-titled 2015 album, UMO possess instrumentals that will send you daydreaming.
Sometimes we relinquish when artists go it alone from a beloved band, and most times it’s brilliant.
Japanese Breakfast is the solo project of Michelle Zauner from the music group Little Big League. Zauner’s debut album, Psychopomp, includes exuberant dream pop in the likes of Everybody Wants to Love You.
The singer’s newly-released album, Soft Sounds From Another Planet, presents the rhythmic chords of Road Ahead with the paradisiacal dream sound of Zauner’s voice.
Enchanting dream pop band, Beach House, continually revive a late ‘80s, ‘90s soft pop rock dream sound in their music. Tracks such as the haunting Gila (album: Devotion), Myth (album: Bloom), and Space Song (album: Depression Cherry), fit the futuristic light textures and whispery traits of dream pop revival.
The stunning visuals of the new single, Chariot, show a young Jackie Kennedy from her wedding to JFK, to holding her babies in arm, to solitary moments of beauty suiting the romancing nostalgia of the new LP.
American band, Beach Fossils, create mellow atmospheres characterised by lo-fi and hazy drones. Tracks such as What a Pleasure, Adversity, and the transient song Moments, reflect the lo-fi old retro nature of the group with songs that would not go amiss in a ‘90s free-spirited film.
Taken from their latest album, Somersault, Down the Line is a fast-strung tranquil song in familiarity to Beach Fossil’s usual vibe.
More songs for the dreamer: