February 8, 2012

Album Review: Mr. Dream's Fatherland EP

On last year's debut Trash Hit, Mr. Dream gave indie rock a long overdue gut check by pillaging influence from Steve Albini's '90s back catalog and returning listeners to an era where the filthy grind of angular guitar-and-rhythm-based punk ruled the scene. The LP didn't necessarily reinvent the wheel, but it was impressive enough to be named one of the 2011's best albums here on AS and distinguish the trio as a breakthrough act. Throw in the fact that Mr. Dream's knowledge of music's ins and outs extends beyond re-writing history (drummer Nick Sylvester is the band's acting producer while both he and guitarist Adam Moerder dabble in journalism,) it's pretty easy to put your faith in what they're doing. If not, then their new EP Fatherland should convince you that Mr. Dream are here to save indie rock from itself.

Like Albini's work in Big Black, Rapeman and Shellac, Mr. Dream torchbear strange and hyperbolistic songwriting in over-saturated doses. Fatherland after all is an EP featuring six songs written about everything from an amusement park for fathers, 20 ft. snakes to extreme female bodybuilding. These sound like asinine concepts on paper, but it's a non-issue once the band starts plowing their way through the lyrical mindfuck. Beginning with the EP's first three cuts ("Fatherland," "Palace Complex," "What a Mess") it's apparent that since we last heard from Mr. Dream, they've 'roided up their sound with hooks more contagious, muscular riffs and thrashing drum reverb that's all brought forward into your stereo with further clarity by sharper production. The profoundly-titled "Believing and Shitting" is maybe the EP's shining moment of Sylvester's recording duties with how well Moerder's guitar and Adam Morello's bass lines scale out into a Surfer Rosa-like stratosphere. But perhaps nothing is more surprising here on Fatherland than when Mr. Dream unplugs on "Slow Learner," their most naked track to date that still finds ways to fill in the gaps with vocal rage.

As a half-way mark between their heavy-hitting debut and their forthcoming sophomore effort Montreal Sex Machine, Fatherland is a sign that Mr. Dream are beginning to outstep their influences by honing in on tightly-wound and bigger-sounding tracks. The Brooklyn trio has a knack for taking their words down an unorthodox road, but they level it off by feeding a hunger for drudging guitars and a chaotic rhythm section through structure and disciplined audio refinements. Where as many of their contemporaries in the indie rock universe are attempting to make it it look like they're not trying or just trying way too hard, Mr. Dream's Fatherland proves you can sound like the most awesome pile of shit as long as you know what you're doing.

Mr. Dream's Fatherland EP will be released Febuary 28, 2012 on God Mode Records.

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