DREAM CATCHER – 'DYSTOPIA: THE TREE OF LANGUAGE'
2. Scream *Title
4. Red Sun
5. Black Or White
6. Jazz Bar
8. In The Frozen
10. Full Moon
11. Over the Sky
13. Scream (Inst.)
14. Paradise (SIYEON)
Joining the glut of bands who are releasing their first-ever full albums is Dream Catcher with 'Dystopia: The Tree of Language.' This album has a whopping 14 tracks, including the title track "Scream" and Siyeon's solo single "Paradise."
"Intro" is a very dramatic track. It's got a string section (likely synthesized) over a beat. It has a hint of menace and foreboding, like most of their tunes. It's quite effective at setting the mood. Their title track is "Scream," oddly enough they dial back the guitars a lot in this one. Where they show up most prominently is in the chorus. Along with a choir echoing the title, adding a Gothic feel to it. "Tension" is a lot more guitar-oriented than "Scream." It sounds a lot like their previous work but not slavishly so. The chorus is less repetitive than usual, for example, and is meatier.
Starting ominously, "Red Sun" has more harmonic, bell-like chords. The vocals in the chorus are high and sweet, but the music box backing track just makes it creepy, which is a good thing. I'll take creepy Dream Catcher over sweet any day. "Black or White" is a more of a straight-ahead rock track. It's a thing of beauty, with all the attitude and sharp vocals we've grown accustomed to when it comes to this band. "Jazz Bar" sounds a lot like something you hear at...well...a modern jazz bar. You've got the piano, the R&B style beats, and seductive vocals. It's quite well done, even if it feels like they're muscling in on Mamamoo's territory.
"SAHARA" has some vaguely middle eastern stylings. At least that's what some of it reminds me of, but it's not too in your face. I like how it builds to the chorus, and then has an epic drop just before it. The epic "In The Frozen" sounds like some mythic saga, even if the English in the title is a little off. Even the music suggests a journey to the unknown, so they did a masterful job arranging this one. "Daybreak" is more of a pop song than its cousins on the LP. It has a lot of R&B influences here, you also get a real good idea of how beautiful they can sound. I like how "Full Moon" has this dark and dangerous intro. This sounds very much like a Dream Catcher song. There's nothing wrong with that but it does sound a little too familiar, almost like they're copying themselves. And the copy is never as good as the original.
"Over the Sky" is the song where they redeem themselves. It sounds like it's supposed to, but it has a little more heart and soul to it. "Outro" almost sounds like it was recorded backward, at least in the beginning. I like how there's a subtle wrongness to the piece. It leaves you unsettled even after the album ends. "Paradise" is Siyeon's solo track, included on this album to call more attention to it. It's a power ballad featuring her lovely vocals. There is a harder edge to the chorus. It still doesn't make it a bad song at all. And it's not really out of place here.
So despite all these tracks, there is very little filler. Every song is pretty much classic Dream Catcher in one way or another. While there are some deviations from the formula, they still killed it. And they didn't go too far astray, other than "Daybreak." But that is such a pretty song I can forgive them for that. So this is a pretty solid album. A lot of serious bops on here. I was waiting for this album, and the wait was worth it.
The MV starts out with words of foreboding: "One day suddenly the light did not come. People forgot how to say good things."
And we end up in a snowy wonderland for at least part of it. There we see that at least one of the girls has magical powers. Her hands and forearms glow brightly. It also apparently has something to do with the hollow of a tree. But then there are trips through wormholes, Gahyeon in a mask, SuA with a sword, and other assorted madness.
I'm not sure what any of this has to do with anything. I'm sure there's a plot somewhere, but it got lost. Or at least it was lost on me. I do have to say that the way they do it is extremely stylish. Floating snow gives way to glowing embers, and the backgrounds change as they dance. One thing about Dream Catcher is they give great visuals.
That's one thing I can really say about it. It was not boring. In fact, it was intriguing. It kept my eyes glued to the screen, wondering what was going to happen next. If you are familiar with Dream Catcher videos, they usually showcase one nightmare scenario after another. This had elements of uncertainty in it, like the dark, shadowy trees in the background; floating, glowing hearts of crystal that suddenly shatter; trippy cosmic backgrounds; asteroids streaking towards the Earth. Not sure how much of a nightmare scenario this would be, other than the giant rocks hurtling from space.
In many ways, it was one surprise transitioning to new surprises. That's probably why I liked it so much. I couldn't guess what was coming next.
MV SCORE: 9.0
ALBUM SCORE: 9.0