Dream State – ‘Untethered’

By Ian Kenworthy

Everything went wrong. After the release of their debut album Dream State slowly fell apart. This left songwriter Aled Evans alone with a choice; rebuild the band, or give up. Here’s the thing; getting anywhere in the music world is difficult, and being the songwriter in a small but established band doesn’t mean a lot on its own, not without their songs. So he’s assembled a new line-up and new EP ‘Untethered’ is their statement of intent. At three songs long, it’s only a taste and that makes perfect sense. They’re wanting to quickly release something, to catch your attention, reintroduce themselves, prove they still matter, tease the future and provide the basis for an upcoming tour. The pressure’s on.

Let’s start with the first single ‘Taunt Me’ because it’s exactly the song they needed to write. It’s big, bold, and does everything their previous work did but doesn’t stop there. New vocalist Jessie Powell really makes a mark, and that’s no easy task when she’s replacing C.J. Gilpin’s distinctive style. There’s real chemistry, and Powell is a talented singer unable to resist a big chorus or a hook and the yelped emphasis of the phrase “so haunting” shows she can handle both styles easily. It’s a sound that leans closer to pop than emo and has a lot in common with their contemporaries in As Everything Unfolds. It’s also difficult to ignore the delightful “Woo!” during the breakdown because it actually feels fun. And yes, the echoing vocal on the pre-chorus feels a little cheap, but it’s quickly forgotten once the slick riffs arrive.

The remaining tracks don’t hold back either, taking bigger swings than you might expect. While electronic elements are not uncommon in this kind of post-hardcore, ‘Comfort In Chaos’ opens with a fascinating soundscape that feels weighty and neatly thought out, neatly laying the groundwork so that the heavier guitar work arrives with the force of a train. Sure, the riffs err toward rock, but Powell chooses a slightly unusual vocal style that’s more a feminine bark than anything and it makes a great counterpoint to the guitar tone. The song’s hard stop doesn’t quite work but it’s a small thing that doesn’t detract from the song’s thrilling power.

Synths are threaded through the band’s debut album ‘Primrose Path’, but here ‘Chain Reactions’ takes this a step further with a real dancefloor vibe. It’s a catchy, head-bopping number that shows off the new line-up’s potential by pushing them into the space occupied by Sweden’s Blood Command. The song’s mid-section is especially effective, breaking up the song in a way that’s both alluring and dangerously harsh. Ironically, it’s the song that wasn’t released as a single when it’s easily the biggest hook. You can see why; they’ve teased music to reassure old fans when this is the sound of what comes next.

‘Untethered’ is confident, exciting and pushing the band’s sound in a new direction. If you like your post-hardcore with heaps of melody these are arguably the best three songs in their catalogue. Dream State aren’t just back, they’re essential.


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