Dreamcar – ‘Dreamcar’

By Glen Bushell

Devotees of both AFI and No Doubt will be well aware of their penchant for pop music. The former strayed further from their goth punk roots with each release, while the latter drifted more into R&B as their career progressed. None of that has been a bad thing, though, and the combination of No Doubt – sans Gwen Stefani – with Davey Havok assuming vocals duties to form Dreamcar, is as pop-driven as you would expect it to be.

The palpable hooks that run through their self-titled debut are infectious and alluring, with all the crystal clear production of a modern radio friendly record. The nuanced musicianship of Tony Kanal and Adrian Young shines through, proving just what an airtight rhythm section they still are, with guitarist Tom Dumont’s major key, funk-infused progressions carrying each composition. Add to that Havok’s note-perfect vocal melodies, eschewing the dramatic tendencies of his day job, opting for a style similar to that of his electronic project, Blaqk Audio.

Dreamcar borrow heavily from the new wave movement of the ‘80s, as warm synths are layered in the mix for Havok to harmonise with on ‘Kill For Candy’. There are even nods towards Daft Punk’s more recent material as ‘On The Charts’ cruises through walking bass-lines into a soaring chorus. ‘All Of The Dead Girls’ is nothing more than an up-tempo pop song, and even if it is one of the weaker tracks on the record, it’s so sickeningly catchy you wouldn’t notice.

Havok gets to live out his Robert Smith dream through the darker sections of ‘Ever Lonely’ and ‘Slip On The Moon’, which are redolent of The Cure’s ‘Pornography’ era, save the for the soaring choruses. Some more moments like this would have broken up the album a bit, as it rarely deviates from straightforward pop. There are a few filler tracks as the record wanes towards the latter half but it picks back up at the end with the glorious ‘Do Nothing’, before the post-punk hypnosis of ‘Show Me Mercy’ seals the album off in grandiose fashion.

With around thirty years experience of writing music for the masses between them, Dreamcar know exactly how to craft a pop song. It doesn’t just sound like No Doubt with a different vocalist, and it’s far from a Davey Havok vanity project. Their self-titled album, which isn’t without fault, is a solid pop record that serves a purpose to showcase well-written, enjoyable songs.

GLEN BUSHELL

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