Frolic’s To Dream, Perchance to Sleep is undoubtedly beautiful, with Kelly O’Brien’s misty voice and the barely there arrangements. It’s haunted and atmospheric in the most traditional ways, providing a dreamlike feel, at once comforting and unnerving. No one will question Frolic’s ability to create gorgeous music—it is obvious that they do. But for all of that, it’s almost impossible to tell if To Dream, Perchance to Sleep is actually good. Frolic simply hides behind what they are and doesn’t present anything else.
Frolic will take you into their world, yes, and you’ll probably enjoy the experience. While firmly rooted in an ethereal sound, it is mellow enough to be approachable to everyone. There’s almost nothing not to like, and that seems to be the problem. Frolic isn’t taking any chances, instead offering what you’d expect in terms of this sort of music. Unlike some of their peers, Frolic’s influences are only on the surface. They flirt with world music and electronic sounds without truly understanding or utilizing either. It doesn’t make To Dream, Perchance to Sleep bad or even uninspired because what listeners are left with is enjoyable, but it is pure escapism. While Frolic’s lack of depth may not make much of an emotional connection with listeners, their music is still pretty.
All the songs here resemble each other closely, in terms of tempo or theme or just because they all mostly sound the same. It is a bit tiring, but the soothing, even feel of To Dream, Perchance to Sleep is pleasant and preferable to the album being all over the place. Even when tracks like the intriguing “Stay” deviate away from the established sound, the next songs quickly bring it back.
Lead vocalist O’Brien does have a heavenly voice and is well suited to this music, providing just enough otherworldliness to To Dream, Perchance to Sleep. Lyrically, Frolic is about what you would expect—dramatically worded tales of love and loss. O’Brien’s hushed vocals mostly lose the words into the background, but the overall feeling still remains. She is the highlight of the album, and the songs that lack her vocals become tedious.
Frolic means well, and most of To Dream, Perchance to Sleep is an exercise in beauty, but in the end, it’s hard to care or to want to hear it again. The freeform melodies don’t stay with listeners, and the vaporous ambience to the music doesn’t give much to hold onto. There’s nothing here to make Frolic detestable, but at the same time, there’s nothing here to make you fall in love with them, either.
// Sound Affects
"History repeats the old conceits, the glib replies, the same defeats. Keep your finger on important issues, and keep listening to the 275th most acclaimed album of all time. A 1982 masterpiece is this week's Counterbalance.READ the article