Dream State – ‘Primrose Path’

By Gem Rogers

It’s easy to forget that Dream State have only released two EPs so far. As their live show has gone from strength to strength and their fanbase has boomed over the last two years, they already feel like an intrinsic part of the UK alternative music scene, drawing huge crowds at festival appearances and headline shows alike. There’s a good reason for their popularity; the raw honesty of their lyrics, especially on last year’s ‘Recovery’ EP, coupled with high energy alt rock and a hardened edge provides a comforting, powerful outlet in difficult times, a space of understanding and solidarity.

With such a distinctive sound already established, there was always going to be one big question when it came to their debut full length – how do they translate that sound from five tracks to ten, and still keep it fresh? ‘Primrose Path’ is how.

From the outset of this debut full length, this is the Dream State we’ve come to know and love – but there’s something different. From the pulsing first moments of ‘Made Up Smile’, we’re invited in to a new world, still full of driving heaviness, but now intertwined with a more electronic sound that’s used effectively to show a new side to the four piece. It quickly becomes clear that the singles released so far merely scratched the surface of all this album has to offer, and as we roll past the now familiar – yet still outstanding – ‘Hand In Hand’ and ‘Open Windows’, things only get better.

The soaring ‘Twenty Letters’, with its almost symphonic metal feel, is an incredible high in the middle of the album, but there’s no come down as ‘Spitting Lies’ crashes in with vocalist CJ Gilpin at her absolute best, the versatility of her voice lending itself to the huge verses and coarse screams of the chorus. The balance of melody with this edge allows the passion in her words to seep through into every moment – these aren’t songs to simply be listened to, they are songs to be felt, and it’s through Gilpin’s vocals that we are invited in.

These two tracks build into one of the band’s heaviest offerings in ‘Out Of The Blue’, dropping in like a tonne of drum-shaped bricks that could well result in the kind of mosh pits that destroy a more fragile venue. The freedom of ten tracks has allowed Dream State to explore more sides of themselves, and the result is their most varied and interesting release to date, each turn revealing something new and beautiful. The gentle tones of ‘Chapters’ are a prime example, as guitarist Rhyx Wilcox takes the lead on vocals, woven occasionally with Gilpin’s for a haunting, softer four minutes than we are used to from this band.

As could almost be expected, ‘Primrose Path’ holds phenomenal strength lyrically, echoing the themes established in ‘Recovery’; it can be dark, but the openness they have always shown in the face of topics like anxiety and addiction feels like a light in that darkness. As the music drives forwards, so too do we, to better times and brighter days, and that hope is what Dream State encapsulate. The album closes with one of their most painfully powerful tracks to date in ‘I Feel It Too’ – from the spoken passages and choruses that cry out with honest emotion, this is Dream State at their most heartbreakingly raw, and it’s one hell of a way to end an album.

No matter what expectations have been held for this debut, ‘Primrose Path’ will comfortably surpass them all. Dynamic, heartfelt, and full of fire, this is what the future of British alternative music sounds like, as Dream State continue to elevate themselves to ever greater heights. Debuts of this quality are a true rarity, and this is one to be grasped with both hands and enjoyed to its fullest – it’s the start of something truly magical.

GEM ROGERS

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