Chris Taylor of Grizzly Bear releases his debut solo album.
Darren Loucaides 2011-09-14
Dreams Come True finds CANT – Grizzly Bear’s Chris Taylor – attempting to push beyond the margins of the band he’s most famous for. It’s the intricacy of that band’s compositions that most find breathtaking (and some a bit suffocating), but while there’s still depth to the more electronic instrumentation on his debut LP, Taylor’s songwriting is rarely complex here. At times this means a more liberated sound as, beneath the embroilment of various percussive ingredients and eclectic sounds, he just toys with one or two melodies.
It certainly starts strongly, with handclaps and guttural drums propelling Too Late, Too Far forwards; there’s a brazen postmodernism in the mix of cultural inputs, from the discordant patter of (what might be) a marimba to the distant singing of (what sounds like) a Chinese bamboo flute. Then there’s Taylor’s sensually eerie, fairly monotone voice which, when the synths arrive loudly around the mid-point, gathers into a reverberant wailing.
Believe is even better, lush waves of sound panning around to the rhythm of a tinkling hi-hat and shuddering bass – the latter reminiscent of Twin Shadow, whose 2010 debut, Forget, was produced by Taylor. The song pauses after two minutes for the lingering line, "The things I haven’t told you, you won’t believe", which repeats as the music thunders back into life, creating a strange mood of triumphant guilt. The Edge continues much the same, the lines, "Each time you said you loved me / Each time you said you care", cooed out ad nauseum over a backing track that could almost be an off-cut from the aforementioned Forget.
But then the album loses focus. BANG starts with a gently plucked guitar and Taylor’s breathless voice, only for cold drums to enter halfway through, at which point the song freezes over, inexplicably shirking the warm delicacy it started with. She’s Found a Way Out uses the same misplaced trick, shifting unpleasantly towards sluggish electronica after the promise of its opening guitar and high-pitched vocals.
Dreams Come True pleases most when Taylor takes pleasure in building up a simple melody; Answer, for example, is compelling precisely because it works up one hauntingly eerie idea, and doesn’t juxtapose it with other inappropriate ones. There’s plenty of interest here, then, but not enough to satisfy across a whole album.