The crisp and clean finish on Smokey Dreams’ approach to rock music is refreshingly satisfying throughout this twelve-track collection. What could easily appear as grunge comes through with the connective clarity of indie, so within this setting you get to easily take on board every riff and every lyric – as well as hearing each emotional intricacy of that leading voice. Chemical Girls is all of this, a bold introduction to Smokey Dreams – a gentle indie-rock anthem with a simple melody and a psychedelic latter half that sees instrumental musicianship take the reins.
Raygun Heart moves things in more of an Americana direction, the subtle swagger and groove of the music fits this near-whispered vocal really well. Again the melody is far from complex, a few notes, familiar and comforting. The song reaches out in an intimate manner and creates a calming ambiance with an enjoyable level of movement. The hook sees the energy come alive, lightness appears and a well-deserved sense of resolve following the seduction of the verses. Another interesting concept intertwines with that which is more accessible and relatable, helping hold your attention.
One and One and One is an easy highlight from the playlist, a gritty and infectiously rhythmic blues-rock mood appears – great guitar work and a wonderfully raspy vocal offer another simple, memorable hook that quickly leaves its mark. Strange Ghost after this leads with some compelling story-telling and a creatively colourful set-up. There’s a sense of intrigue and drama, alongside a brilliantly complex, long-form melody line. Another highlight for its character, that entrancing vocal, and the general musical appeal.
Acoustic roots change the mood with Clean Mellow Dream – the band continue to provoke thought with poetic, unusual concepts. The stripped back aura works well and the sound connects in a whole new way. The more you hear of their music, the more you’re likely to fall in love with it. This song alone gets more beautiful and mesmerising as it goes on – a stunning hook really awakens you.
Smokey Dreams are an increasingly impressive band. The live show is undoubtedly where things would really connect, but in terms of seeking out that album or playlist within which you can immerse yourself and feel involved in something, perhaps even understood; this collection is everything you could hope for. The organic musicianship is as entertaining as the songwriting but without veering off too selfishly at any point – the band are a unit, with a shared intention.
Join The Game is a memorable and energizing song with a beautiful set-up. The rhyme scheme is fantastic and the whole thing pours through so smoothly. I was strangely reminded of Savage Garden at this point. Afterwards, I Wanna Take You Home leads with a melancholy, emo-rock aura and a distant, effected vocal that suits the intoxicated nature of the lyrics. Perhaps there’s a hint of Amanda Palmer here, though each to their own when the mind forms unexpected comparisons.
Things get quietly reflective and poetic for the warm and hypnotically heartfelt Elixir – another highlight, simple yet beautiful in its portrayal of the concept. Again, the hook is unpredictable but seems to make perfect sense once it hits. A gorgeous song and another favourite – very easy to listen to on repeat. Smokey Dreams become more engaging and interesting with each new song that appears.
Nobody Cares lets a blues-rock shuffle ensue and a classic, BRMC-style vocal and melody guide you. The lyrics are extremely poignant in this setting, it feels like an indie anthem for the disheartened or isolated. There’s a dash of hope in the band’s addressing of these feelings. The latter half sees that psychedelic vibe overwhelm in a powerful way.
Middle Of The Moon is a great track, easily likable and energetic enough to pick you up just when you need it. Neon Believer follows on well but reintroduces a country-style march and a lighter vocal. More of those impossibly brilliant lyrics rain down around you. That acoustic riff lingers in your mind long after listening. The song also cleverly moves from melancholy to optimistic, often within a single line – bringing darkness and brightness together in a gorgeously artistic manner. A definite grower and another highlight once you’ve really heard it.
At the final hurdle, Taking A Drag drives with a Placebo or Muse like musicality and a quick vocal rhythm that leans back towards spoken word. It feels quite classically Smokey Dreams at this point, a fitting way to finish and a lasting reminder of the superb writing style and performance skills the band so naturally possess. A joy to stumble upon.
Check out all 12 songs on Bandcamp. A stunning collection, absolutely worth the time it takes to listen in full.