by Isiah Schellenberg
Los Angeles-based band Smokescreens newest album A Strange Dream captures what a catchy jangle pop record can be. Similar to Smith Westerns, Real Estate, and the Velvet Underground, the instrumentation on these songs has a very warm tone all together. All the parts blend and compliment one another from the clean jangle guitar leads to strummed acoustic guitars. With a similar sound to their last release Used to be Yesterday, this group of songs has a more refined and cleaner sound.
The opening track, “Fork In the Road,” sets what you can hear from the album and shows how great the guitar work on these songs is. It starts with a high energy riff then the drums come right along with a washed-out layer of synth to follow right through. Smokescreens’ song “Nighttime Skies “is the fourth song which has a change of pace and is one of the slower and most simple songs.
On the only acoustic track, there is a light tambourine sound that rings throughout and Beach Boys style harmonies in the chorus. The lyrics on A Strange Dream come off as lighthearted but still very thought out. On their song, “Streets of Despair” the listener experiences the perspective of a character looking at a situation they have never been in before or know. “In a rich new town, where you can be living the life of luxury, other people might not have luck, you’ll never know what it’s like to be stuck.”
Then there’s “I Only Love You,” the most similar sounding to the Velvet Underground, with its spoken word vocals. “When the routine bites hard and the jokes have gone too far/ when the world brings you down/ I’ll be the one who’s coming round.” This song has a narrator showing their reassurance to someone who is going through a difficult time. Then going back to “Night Time Skies” where it’s talking about the change from day to night and finding more joy in the night. With a run time of only 23 minutes, these eight songs are really able to showcase a lot.