Overall Score: 9/10 Standout Tracks: 9/10 Vocals: 9/10 Emotional Impact: 9/10 Pros: A wonderful collection of impassioned songs | Outstanding vocals | Complex yet accessible musicianship Cons: Very little
For those who have been watching them eagerly since they burst onto the scene two years ago, Primrose Path, the debut album from Dream State, is one of the most eagerly awaited albums of the year. After the phenomenal Recovery EP last year, hopes were high that they could carry on from where the EP left off. Thankfully those hopes have been realised.
It is evident throughout Primrose Path that Dream State have evolved their sound, bringing in a more electronic element to proceedings. Before the inevitable groans from some kick in, fear not. This is still very much the Dream State you know and love, it’s very much an evolution, not revolution – more Architects and less Bring Me The Horizon, if you will.
Album opener Made Up Smile is a perfecr encapsulation of where Dream State have taken their sound. CJ’s multiple vocal styles are still at the heart of everything, and when they cut loose in the final third of the track, it’s as heavy as they’ve ever been. It’s just that everything is a bit more nuanced, signs that the band are growing into their own sound a little more.
When it was originally released back in March, what turned out to be the album’s first single, Hand In Hand, felt perhaps a bit too much of a departure from Dream State’s other material up to that point. Here, as part of the full album, it fits far better. It especially serves well as the precursor to most recent single Open Windows, a song that fuses the different aspects of Dream State perfectly with Aled Evans and Rhys Wilcox doing some of their best riff work of the album here. There’s also an excellent breakdown reminiscent of “Help Myself” from the Recovery EP.
The middle part of Primrose Path shows that Dream State have honed their writing skills on both ends of their sound. The likes of Spitting Lies and Twenty Letters are the band at their most melodic, while Out Of The Blue is perhaps the heaviest song they’ve written to date. On Out Of The Blue drummer Jamie Lee really gets to shine and CJ’s harsh vocals are at their best.
Primrose Path also brings Rhys Wilcox more to the fore in terms of his vocal contributions to Dream State. Rhys takes the lead on Chapters, and contributes backing vocals elsewhere. Chapters is perhaps the song that feels most out of place with the rest of the album, not because of Rhys’ vocals but Primrose Path as an album doesn’t necessarily feel like it “needs” a slower song like Chapters as some albums do.
The album’s semi title-track Primrose is the most impressive of the three singles they’ve released so far and it retains its full enjoyment factor as part of the full album. The chorus is enormous and the bridge and pre-chorus drop briefly feels like its entering Thrice territory, which is always a welcome statement to be able to make. The album closing I Feel It Too is the lyrical highlight of the album, telling a story that many listeners will recognise in their own lives and delivering it in a musically very powerful way. It’s a fantastic way to crown off a highly impressive album.
Dream State have taken all the promise they’ve shown up to this point and they have fully delivered on it. Primrose Path is a wonderful album full of dexterous elements which should propel the band to great new musical heights. See them on their upcoming tour if you can, they won’t be playing venues that size for much longer.
The new album from Dream State, Primrose Path, is released on the 18th of October 2019 on UNFD.