Review Summary: For every terrific song on Dreamhouse, there's a terrifically mediocre one waiting around the block...
Influences are always a very important part of who a band is. One has to start somewhere in the field of music in terms of finding something they generally enjoy, and then from there is where progress takes place, if the right intentions are had. This is where bands often lose their footing- some bands spend too much time writing inoffensive music, sticking to what they're used to, and others struggle finding their unique sound. This has to be noted, considering the immediate thought that entered my mind as I heard "Dreamhouse" was Tides of Man's influences, which are quite prevalent.
So, who DO they listen to? Well, I could hear vocals reminiscent of Coheed and Cambria's distinctive singer, Claudio Sanchez, as well as Anthony Green from Circa Survive. The guitar parts remind of Thomas Erak's from the Fall of Troy, in terms of their technical nature, and when "Dreamhouse" showcases its musicianship through more complex time signatures, bands like This Town Needs Guns come to mind.
Not bad influences, huh? All of these bands have their own style, and they came across their distinctive sound from growing with their influences. They found their place in the musical world, which is one thing that Tides of Man seem to be struggling with in their latest offering, "Dreamhouse".
For starters, the album is an incredibly top-heavy one. "Not My Love 2" is undeniably catchy and well-executed, and is followed by "Statues", a bluntly technical piece, in fact the one that convinced me to purchase this album. After that is "Home", which, despite its terribly over-used song name, displays Tides of Man doing what they're best at. These three songs set the bar terribly high, and sadly the rest of the album just does not deliver, and when it does, it's sporadic and uneven.
Don't get me wrong- "Dreamhouse" is a consistent album- it's consistently inconsistent. That's its biggest struggle; for me, I actually found that I thoroughly enjoy five songs out of the ten offered on the album, and I'm pretty apathetic about the other five. The fact that I can't really gleam much enjoyment out of half of the album is a grave concern! The one thing, though, that is consistent on the album is the impressive musicianship- these gentlemen can play their instruments. However, with songs like the unimpressive "Sunshine", there isn't any reason to listen again. It feels quite shallow and lacking in terms of substance, which is a shame considering the crazy amount of potential the band shows with "Statues" and "Not My Love 2".
"Salamanders and Worms" is a major highlight of the album. The instrumentation is top-notch in the song, as well as Tilian Pearson's vocals, and the frenetic bridge is undoubtedly one of the high points of the album. "A Faint Illusion" is also a very lovely song, with a beautiful intro that reminds me of "Rest Here My Brother" by Birds of Tokyo. The band shows their softer side with the song, and so it makes it all the more frustrating that the song loses a good bit of its steam with a cheesy part towards the end...
That's the thing with these guys. For every aspect of their music I enjoy, I can find something else that I really don't care for, and the two balance each other out. "Only Human", for instance, starts off a very promising, fun song, but directly after it is an uncomfortable softer part with the awkward lyrics "My guard is down and my insides are spilling from my stomach, and you grab a straw to slurp it up off the ground.", leading into an easily forgettable chorus. And the ending of the song, and album, just seems forced to me. The vocals also suffer in this part, attempting to sound strong but falter in the end, and all of these things leave the listener feeling quite underwhelmed. What happened with the album that began on such a high, promising note?
The powerful parts of "Dreamhouse", that being said, are very well-executed and are highly enjoyable, and the highs of the album are prominent ones. However, Tides of Man needs to be careful to put their best foot forward with their next release; they could be heading in a dangerous direction if they don't realize their mistakes on this album and try to counter them next time.
I think that in the meantime, I'll just listen to "Salamanders and Worms".