Straight out of the traps, I Need You is an effervescent pop fizz that’s propelled along with blistering sixteenths on the hi hat, wonderful jangling guitars and a juggernaut of a bassline. It all plugs straight into your veins in instant fashion and refuses to let go.
There is something of the 60’s spirit of The Monkees about the production, and the guitar solo is straight out of the Steve Hackett manual of killer 60s guitar sounds. I realise that these comparisons may imply that the sound is dated, but that’s not what I mean. There are really just production choices being made – and in today’s blender of influences, styles and music-capturing technology, choice is simply one of the instruments that music makers can wield.
Samir Chandra’s lead vocal is laid-back to the point where it feels like it’s almost too easy as it slinks into your ears. There are phrases that swoop and others that are clipped. Chandra’s voice harmonises with itself beautifully, creating a stack that’s sugar sweet and easy on the ear.
The song builds beautifully to the point where the root note is hammered out (on the beat) on keys that drive the song to a sudden conclusion at a smidgeon past the 2 minute mark.
When you think about it, this high tempo song crams a lot into its short run time…
The Keane-like, piano-led Come Back To Me is up next and this one doesn’t hang about either. I’m immediately transported to obscure Queen album track Jealousy, but only briefly, as the melody and structure rapidly climb out of the song’s intro. After just two lines of lyric, the verse is done and the song changes gear into a (relatively) lengthy chorus that’s topped and tailed with the same parts.
This is where convention is shown the door, as the song wanders around interesting dynamics (which include a nicely-played piano break) to explore the parts in different ways. Due care is given to the melody as it’s delivered in different ways.
Almost a third of the song is given over to the outro – a slow fade as the chorus cycles around the imploring phrase ‘Come back to me’. Nicely-judged backing vocals provide support as the delivery of the lead vocal becomes more animated – as do the drum fills, as the piano is enthusiastically driven down the middle of the song before the whole fades into the distance.
The third track, Getaway, is perhaps the most revealing on the EP – it’s live, and the bells and whistles of production nous and separation, and the stacks of sweet harmony vocals are missing – and the ambience captured within the performance space suddenly has a large part to play in the song, arguably becoming an instrument in its own right.
Chandra’s vocal has nowhere to hide, and once under the microscope, as it were, is revealed to be highly tuneful – having the same elasticity as demonstrated on the studio tracks, and also a robust and pleasant vibrato which really comes into its own here.
The chorus, in terms of the relationship between the melody and chords is reminiscent of R Kelly’s world-beating hit I Believe I Can Fly, but with a touch more portamento. However, the choice of a harmony backing vocal part is an interesting one, and when introduced takes Getaway further away from that comparison.
Clocking in at nearly 4 minutes, Getaway is allowed a far more indulgent arrangement in terms of space and has a freewheeling, spontaneous feel to it – indeed, the bridge part has a looseness which feels like it could have been jammed out on the night – not in a bad way, you understand, it’s simply allowed a bit more space.
So the EP goes from tight, fizzy and slightly psychedelic confection to troubadour-esque piano pop, and concludes with a live performance that’s no less hypnotic but is allowed to sprawl a little more creatively.
In conclusion, Silent Gnomes are clearly adept at keeping their listeners on their toes, and this little collection doesn’t outstay its welcome. Accomplished, fun and thoughtful, Dream is a great calling card for what Silent Gnomes are all about.