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I Dream of Dream Pop

Lizzy Schroff | Thursday, April 11, 2013



Scene Writer

Never heard of dream pop? Well, it’s about time you did! Dream pop is about the experience-the aura created by the range of sounds and textures. Be prepared for prominent synths, ethereal effects, looping beats and echoes. Lots of echoes.

1. “Reunion” by M83: It’s difficult for me to choose just one M83 song to highlight (who could ignore the epic line “City is my chuuurch” from “Midnight City”), but it’s hard to ignore. The music video posits “Reunion” as the sequel to “Midnight City.”

2. “Cherry” by Chromatics: This hypnotizing track is sure to pull you into the dream pop world. Singer Ruth Radelet’s vocals aren’t frilly or over-powering. They meld with the persistent bass line, letting the prominent synth effects really shine. 

3. “Daniel” by Bat For Lashes: Remember “The Karate Kid”? If so, then you’ll probably find something familiar about the lyrics to this song. The lyrics were inspired by singer Natasha Khan’s crush on the movie’s protagonist, Daniel LaRusso. If the lyrics aren’t enough to tell you that, just look at the single’s cover – Natasha has a giant painting of Daniel’s face (headband and all) on her back.

4. “Reptile” by The Church: For a little more retro feel, I like to go for The Church, which formed in 1980. This song was the first that I had heard from them, and it’s been my favorite since. The lyrics paint an interesting picture of someone who is enthralling but dangerous. The guitars on this track are phenomenal – the lead weaves in and out of the ringing rhythm guitar, while the drums keep your heart racing. All this is layered on a simple synth background.

5. “Lord Knows” by Dum Dum Girls: From the very start, “Lord Knows” has got you hooked with it’s slow and simple drum beat, simple and echoing guitar line, and reverberating harmonies. This all-girl band pulls off every song they play with an effortless cool.

6. “Hanging On (White Sea Remix)” by Active Child: Thanks to Mia Michael’s imaginative and abstract choreography on “So You Think You Can Dance,” I offer you this track. The choral-like harmonies enhance this heavily synthetic composition, which features pulsing beats and a plethora of keyboard and effect tidbits that build to a climax before the hushed ending.

7. “The Moment I Said” by Imogen Heap: I am enthralled every time that I listen to this song. It weaves up-and-down and in-and-out of so many varied sounds, rhythms and harmonies, that I find something new to love with each press of the replay button. If you get the chance, check out Imogen Heap work her looping magic on YouTube.

8. “Norway” by Beach House: Yes, this is my third Beach House feature. But not including a Beach House track on a dream pop playlist would be a travesty.  Victoria Legend’s unique alto vocals are set against a constant tom-tom drumbeat, circling guitar and otherworldly effects.

9. “Here’s Where the Story Ends” by The Sundays: This British group has been on hiatus since the late 90s, but their music continues to strike in order to leave an impression on the dream pop genre. Whatever mood you’re in or work that is consuming your time and attention, this track is sure to absorb you, if only for its four-minute duration. The smooth, repetitious guitars and Harriet Wheeler’s sweet, unique vocals envelope you in an almost, well … .dream-like state.

10. “Glósóli” by Sigur Rós: If you’re looking for something a little more out-there (and lyrics and song names that you can’t pronounce … because they’re Icelandic), than Sigur Rós is the group for you. This song slowly builds from sweetly sung vocals and xylophone-like sounds to electrifying guitars and pounding drums, coming full circle at the end.

11. “Not in Love” by Crystal Castles ft. Robert Smith of the Cure: I have to admit, usually after the first time that I play this song, it ends up on repeat for the next 15 minutes or so. Robert Smith’s distinct vocals are backed by whirring and forceful synthetic effects that are sure to get your heart pumping.

12. “Chained” by The xx: To bring your heart rate back down and leave you feeling cool and relaxed, I offer you a track from The xx’s 2012 album, “Coexist.” You can feel the tension between Romy Madley-Croft and Oliver Sim in their duo vocals and Jamie Smith keeps time and effect with his always spot-on beats and synths.

Contact Lizzy Schroff at                                          [email protected]