The Copenhagen electropop trio return with an album of sun-kissed guitar and funky synths; they’re aiming for the perfect summer anthem, says Shannon Glass.
It must be hard to be an eighties-influenced band in a post-2008 world. How do you top a year that brought us the likes of Hot Chip, Ladyhawke, Justice, Empire of The Sun, M83 and La Roux—arguably the climax of nostalgia-leaning electro? The answer, according to WhoMadeWho‘s latest album Dreams, is with panache.
Of course, Dreams isn’t exactly the Copenhagen trio’s first time up to bat. Tomas Barfod, Jeppe Kjellberg, and Tomas Hoffding have been putting out their brand of enjoyably memorable synthpop since 2003; more than enough time for them to have learned how to turn a tune out that will be accessible to even the most casual listener. Having captured the interest of a number of high-profile labels over the years (the likes of which include Kompakt, Gomma and Friends of Friends) it’s surprising that their latest venture would be self-released; then again, as Kjellberg has stated, after years of touring and releasing records with the usual suspects, the group simply wanted to try something new. That sense of trying to rediscover yourself is present throughout Dreams, an album which finds the more danceable aspects of their work being put to the side in favor of Kjellberg’s guitar work.
Tracks like “The Morning”, with it’s sun-kissed vibe, funk-flavored beats and slightly bittersweet lyrics like, “Times were changing faster than I ever understood,” is worthy of sitting alongside any summer anthem of days past. “Hiding In Darkness” resonates strongly as well, but that might just be my Berliner side; it’s hard not to feel sympathy for a song inspired by visits to the great techno-church of Berghain, and even more so when the accompanying video is based around an installation based around the sound of pee hitting a urinal trough. For as many bathroom adventures as Berghain offers, this is definitely a new one on me… err, well hopefully not on me.
As catchy as the eleven tracks on Dreams might be, by the album’s midpoint “Heads Above” the repetition of WMW’s approach starts to drag a bit. Their stylized pop may be individually distinctive, but when presented together in a single format, things start to feel a bit too similar. As well, it’s a bit hard to get overly excited about—in a musical landscape dotted with so many forward-thinking electronic producers, Dreams has its feet firmly planted in a very specific time and place. If that’s something you can overlook, however, you’ll find plenty of lush sounds to soak your brain in. Expect this one to get major play once June rolls around.⁓
Dreams is out March 3rd via WhoMadeWho.
Published February 27, 2014. Words by shannonglass.