Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Album Review: "Wild Dreams" by Colleens

Wild Dreams by Colleens was self-released on Feb. 4
For a self-produced, self-released debut, Wild Dreams is a record that blows away initial expectations. However, the deeper you dig into Colleens' background the easier it is to understand why this band has gotten so damn good so damn quickly. Jonathan and Joshua Harter lie at the heart of Colleens, two brothers raised in San Antonio, Texas that were surrounded by music since a young age. They've since began working in their father's record studio as recording engineers, and when you combine their practical knowledge with their years of experience, it's only natural for Wild Dreams to sound as crisp and polished as it is.

Wild Dreams glides along and clocks in at just around 30 minutes, but it's the perfect amount of time to digest these blissful bursts of subdued Americana energy. Warm basslines help these songs trot along with a downtempo pace, rich organs flesh out the textures and soothing vocal melodies with rich lyrical content top it all of brilliantly. The album starts off with a smooth-sailing track "About You," tightly packed with sparse guitar lines, subtle harmonies and contemplative lyrics that sucks the listener in like a rising tide. Following that natural ebb and flow, the album's mood is set by an excellent pacing that spaces out the catchy and anthemic tracks while nestling the slow-brooding experimental tracks in between.

It'd be easy to write Wild Dreams off as your standard Americana leaning pop record, but there's much more to it than that. "No Flowers" sets a darker and more expansive tone, dreamy dark vocals croon about "endless pillows" and rich, yet desolate imagery over a simplistic yet embellished soundscape. "No Flowers" displays the artistic breadth of Colleens, soft strings build upon the heightened tensions while a quaintly finger picked guitar provides the baseline for this fantastic mid-way track. As "No Flowers" slowly fades out you're snapped out of your trance and thrust into the rambling "Sun Before I Set," one of the album's bright songs characterized by bouncy piano lines, distorted guitars and a chorus of backing vocals. 

There's a lot to love about Wild Dreams, and while there's nothing that sets the band out as groundbreaking, there's a lot of potential for the band to truly move into uncharted territory in future releases. There's a lot of prominent influences on display here that are masked by the Harter brother's obvious talents and originality, but some of the album feels plagued by comfort. It's a fun and easy listen through, especially given its short duration, but there's not a ton of replay value found within most of the tracks. Tracks like "About You," "Maybe We'll Fall In Love," "No Flowers" and "Second Century Home" lend themselves to multiple run throughs and seem to have tons of live potential, but the remainder of the album tends to feel like filler. There's nothing wrong with the tracks, but there's nothing really stopping you from skipping them to get to the more exciting endeavors. All in all Wild Dreams is a wonderful entrance from Colleens and leaves me waiting anxiously for future releases.

Rating: 7.8
Standout Tracks: "About You", "Maybe We'll Fall In Love", "No Flowers"

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