Review: Dream, Ivory – About a Boy
National Music Reviews
About A Boy
Dream, Ivory = The Everly Brothers + Slowdive + PUP
Being familiar with the Southern California music duo Dream, Ivory and their dream pop-inflected EPs, I felt a little slight of hand was in place when I sat down to write this review. I thought I was reviewing the wrong record. The beachy, shoegaze, summer breeze of their EPs was gone and replaced with a new and un familiar sound.
That new sound falls somewhere between the new wave, post punk of John Hughes’ high school hallways and prom dances and the power pop of late ’90s/early ’00s frat boy anthems complete with double negatives and teenage daydreams. Think of a collision between The Psychedelic Furs, The Plimsouls and The Cars with Smash Mouth, Blink-182 and Sum 41. Through this wreckage emerges the sound of Dream, Ivory’s debut album, About A Boy.
Dream, Ivory is a Filipino music duo consisting of brothers Christian Baello (24) and Louie Baello (23). The Baello brothers made this album both together and apart; at times with Christian in Los Angeles and Louie in their hometown of Lake Elsinore, California. The vocals on About A Boy are shared between the brothers and come across as a fuzzed-up, less nasally Richard Butler (The Psychedelic Furs) and a slightly calmer, more controlled Stefan Babcock (PUP). On About A Boy, the brothers trade off and back each other up seamlessly, as if they’re finishing each other’s sentences.
Christian and Louie Baello have created a wall of sound with steady drumbeats riding over swirling guitars and new wave synth lines, occasionally adding air raid sounds, mechanical scrapes and a few beeps, bops and boinks into the mix. The Baello brothers seem to be having fun shedding most of the dream pop overtones and singing over their carefully controlled chaos.
Lyrically, About A Boy is full of angst, boredom, lost love and a fair share of emo fare. The brothers scratch the emo itch with lines like, “I don’t wanna live a life of coping / I’m hoping, and hoping” (“Boyhood”), “Cause I feel too much / And I hear too much / And I see too much” (“Sensory Overload”) and “They sit and stare acting like I’m not aware / I sit and glare right back at them through my hair” (“Wake Up!”). Emo deluxe.
The brothers also prove that they can let loose: “The party’s steady over / But were going all night,” The Baellos sing on the blistering opening track, “Soaking Up The Sickness.” “I will be your best guest, trust me I won’t bore you to death.” On top of this, Dream, Ivory also prove that they have more than just teen spirit brewing. The records greatest soul crusher is the track “Playing Pretend,” featuring the simmering lyric, “The ashes of her cigarette still lingers / As she slams the door, I touch the tray with my fingers.”
Not everything is perfect on About A Boy—some of the tracks feel like they are still evolving, and some lyrics have a little extra adolescent glory and gloom. Flaws are to be expected, especially when you slide your entire sound into a sea change on a debut record. The fact is that the Baello brothers throw out enough hooks that About A Boy sticks. Dream, Ivory have provided an engaging record that they strategically drop in the waining days of summer; enjoy it before the winter comes. –Russ Holsten
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