By Lauren Wisbeski of Indie Band Guru
Draemhouse’s latest EP, Only Friends, starts off strong with the dream pop sounds that made the Seattle-based quartet known.
In “Hard Times for Good Days” and “Only Friends,” you get the type of soft vocals and romantic beat that you’d get from a Beach House or a The xx. “Hard Times” is a song that takes me to a sunny, peaceful place when I close my eyes. It’s about lazy days, giving less thought to insignificant things, and going with the flow.
The tune gets momentarily ominous when its focus shifts to the passage of time: “They say I’m young/what the hell do they know?” Chris Cheveyo and Emma Danner’s voices go well together, and throughout the album they succeed in producing a happy or despondent tone based on the sounds produced by their band mates.
Draemhouse — Foreboding Dream Pop
“Only Friends” is a bit more haunting. It successfully creates a wall of sound for which the dream pop genre is known. Whether you feel that this wall is protective or barricading probably depends on your greater existential philosophy, a conversation we’ll leave for another time.
Draemhouse is successful in evoking an ambiguity throughout the song with the trembling sounds and discordant tones in Cheveyo and Danner’s lines. It makes sense that visual artist Laura Rodriguez produces fiber art installations for the band when you listen to “Only Friends.”
The dreaminess of the first two songs evolves into restlessness in the last two. Far Side of the World gives us a quicker beat and more rushed lyrics. Images of death are apparent in this song, appropriate given the intimations of trouble in the earlier tracks. The album’s progression is undeniably dark and reminds me at certain points of a David Lynch production.
The closing track, “Mr. Kerosene,” starts off hopeless. The tragic hero of the song missed his train and has taken to drinking and smoking. There’s a crescendo in the chorus that makes you optimistic for just a second, before the singers say, “Just set me on fire.” The entire song is uneasy and feels like a cliffhanger for Draemhouse’s future work, which, based on Only Friends, I definitely look forward to.
Only Friends will drop March 15 on Blind Blind Tiger. Preview the EP and score an advance download of Mr. Kerosene here, or preorder the cassette here.