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Extra Life

Dream Seeds

(Northern Spy; US: 10 Apr 2012; UK: 7 May 2012)

What’s so bad about Dream Seeds? Well, for starters, nearly everything. Not only is this some of the most trite and over-indulgent songwriting I’ve ever come across, the church pastor-meets-aspiring-opera-singer amateur delivery that its filtered through is painful to sit through. There’s only fleeting moments of intrigue in the musicianship but for the most part the structures and arrangements are a confused mess that serve no real purpose. Those factors alone make Dream Seeds come off as an amateur record, at best, but when the band decides to try and play up their goth-nightmare aspects in the middle of relatively quiet songs, the whole thing just falls apart.


Some vocalists simply aren’t capable of conveying mood, atmosphere, or emotion and Extra Life heavily features one of them. The vocals alone dull any moments that approach even little interest on Dream Seeds like the distorted bass that cuts through “First Song”. Sadly, even after removing the vocals from the equation Dream Seeds still sounds like a total mess and an amateur band failing at finding anything exciting to present. It’s a challenge to sit through any given song but being forced to sit through the album becomes a titanic task that only prompts thoughts of complaint or mockery.


Fortunately, for everyone, Dream Seeds ends up being mercifully short at seven tracks. Even if the closing two tracks run for a brutal 26 and a half minutes combined. That Extra Life think that Dream Seeds warranted that kind of material, speaks very deeply about the seriously deep-rooted problems that are evident with the record from its silent opening. While the concept the lyrics purportedly toy with, the twin themes of children and nightmares, could make for a fascinating record in the hands of someone like Will Sheff or John Darnielle, Extra Life’s primary writer, Charlie Looker, simply does not have the talent to construct that concept into anything resembling a worthwhile clear or even abstract narrative.


It’s not that there aren’t moments on Dream Life that couldn’t have been interesting, it’s just that the moment the band lands on them, they instantly veer away into seriously bland incredibly over-dramatized territory. Normally, that territory would be considered bombastic but Dream Seeds goes far past that and buries itself in moments that trigger eye-rolls and incredulous and the dissappointed “really?” question.


For instance, on “Ten Year Teardrop” when Looker does his weird vocals inflected with clearly fake anguish and delivers a repeated cry of “I love you, I love you, I love you, ten years deep, we buried you, we buried you” and decides to follow it with a spoken-word segment with nothing but a feedback drone running underneath it, all it brings to mind is memories of junior high school kids experimenting with “dark” writing, only to find their lyrics years later and laugh at the absurdity before immediately (rightfully) discarding the page the words were written on.


That “Ten Year Teardrop” is the song that Dream Seeds chooses to end on is another telling sign that this record probably shouldn’t have been made and certainly shouldn’t be taken seriously. For anyone unfortunate enough to end up in the position of having to endure this entire record and all of its psuedo-gothic traits, I offer my sincere condolences and greatest empathy. Far and away, the absolute worst record I’ve listened to this year.

Rating:

Steven is a writer, musician, and filmmaker from Wisconsin who has spent his fair share of time in the entertainment trenches. He frequently contributes reviews and interviews to Playground Misnomer, which can be accessed here: http://www.playgroundmisnomer.com. You can follow him on Twitter: @unbusyinwi.


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