The architecture of our dreams is as unknowable as it is intensely personal. That is why, when we write about our dreams or explain them to other people, they often come off as flat, without the weird vividness that we feel in the middle of them. Evermore’s sprawling concept-debut, a shimmering interpretation of that inner architecture, suffers from this common failing—of being more captivating to the dreamer than the listener—with a few very notable exceptions.
Let’s get this out of the way. Evermore are a band of brothers, like Hanson or more appropriately, the Finn brothers from Crowded House. They’re inordinately young (17-19-21), like the Arctic Monkeys. But their brand of dreamy pop music (think acoustic guitars and lots of strings) is distinctly their own. Jon, Peter and Dann Hume grew up in New Zealand listening to a lot of Pink Floyd. In Australia, the band was the highest-selling of 2005, on the back of a couple of hit singles and their debut album, Dreams. The band has moved from the MOR rock of their early EPs to a more fully-realised atmospheric pop, informed by the open spaces of the Southern Hemisphere. You can hear this in the music; it unfolds at a slower pace, unafraid to dwell slightly longer on notes or phases within a song than we are perhaps used to.
Evermore’s great triumph is the song “It’s Too Late”. This is a masterpiece of dream-pop; from the echoing keyboard introduction to the soaring melody of the chorus, it’s a winner on all fronts. “For One Day” aims for the same slow-build crescendo of texture and volume, the same soaring chorus; falling, as a second single often does, rather below the success of “It’s Too Late”.
The other songs on Dreams exist on a lower level than these two singles. They aim for the glorious melodies of Muse (more in spirit than in execution) with the grainy orchestral quality of late-era Silverchair, but don’t necessarily have the tunes to back it up. “Dreams Call Out to Me” sounds like a stoned, spaced-out Neil Finn, with a “na-na-na-na” chorus and a verse that’s subservient to the song’s texture. “Without Your Smile” overwhelms its pure pop melody with prominent strings; “The Unavoidable Thing Between Us” recycles “It’s Too Late’s” signature keyboard sounds to lesser effect. The dreaming interludes (Pt 1 with its rude alarm clock, Pt 2 with its plonking, halting piano) are an annoying intrusion to the flow of the album. There’s nothing especially offensive here, and sure it’s confident and ambitious for a debut, but I kept wishing for more.
Specifically, I found myself wishing Evermore were more like another dreamy Antipodean pop band, Epicure. That band’s melodies just seemed to keep flowing, from “Armies Against Me” to “Firing Squad” to “Life Sentence”. Evermore’s compositions are more elusive, subtle; not poor quality songs, just… maybe it comes back to dreams. Mine don’t correspond to Evermore’s, obviously. There are a lot of people in Australia who’ve fallen in love with these ethereal songs, though; so who knows, maybe it’s me, lacking something vital. I’m just not sure there’s much on Dreams that proves really necessary. Give me more songs like “It’s Too Late”, though, and I’ll tell another story entirely.
// Notes from the Road
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