“We live in a world, constantly try and change it. All that we do, is make it harder to remain in. Another world, created for distraction. We move about, with digital reaction.” A powerful introduction to a truly brilliant album that aims to analyse the growing human dependence on technology. An issue that is frequently addressed in modern popular culture, and yet Chicago four-piece Secret Colours have sought and succeeded in showcasing the dilemma in a whole new light. Today, Atwood Magazine is proud to be premiering Dream Dream, the fourth full-length album from Chicago indie quartet Secret Colours.
Listen: ‘Dream Dream’ – Secret Colours
Throughout the album, Secret Colours explore the dreamlike aspects of life’s most abstract experiences, such as love and fear which inspire tracks like “Dream Dream” and “Hold Me Up.” Building on these universal mysteries, Secret Colours seek to define the ever-growing relationship between human emotion and the false sense of comfort we seek in technology, or the digital distraction.
Dream Dream pulls listeners through the decades with its infinite catalogue of influences, ranging from seventies psychedelia to nineties Brit-pop. “Another World” eases us into the twelve-track album with its smooth, ambient indie-pop vibes and haunting vocals. The opening track, as quoted above, sets the theme, serving as an exposition track for Dream Dream. From this, Secret Colours manage a fluid transition into the depths of a more funk-based rock track with title track, “Dream Dream.” This track is, without a doubt, one of the many high points in Dream Dream. The jarring, iconic opening riff of “Dream Dream” alone is a force to be reckoned with and introduces the first of many sub-themes: Love.
Dream dream her dream
Falling in love in her sleep
Following this lament, the fast-paced “Hold Me Up” bursts to life with an infectious rush of guitars and Brink’s deafening bass; a musical representation of fear. Ironically, the track with the primary theme of fear marks the point in the album where Secret Colours begin to veer from their initial ominous tones and sinister vocals. Aside from Yeates’ upbeat percussion and the overall exciting nature of the song, the songwriting itself has switched to a more humorous approach.
There’s something there
that shouldn’t be there
underneath the stairs.
Should’ve listened to Grandma,
she knows what’s best.
“Places I’m Going” draws back into the dreamlike aura of the introductory tracks. Secret Colours’ varying sounds seem to measure each track’s tie to reality. “Hold Me Up” and “Dream Dream” lie on the more aggressive side of sound, anchoring them to reality. Meanwhile, “Places I’m Going” returns to the ambient arrangements of the opening track, “Another World,” reflecting on themes of the unnatural and undefinable. Dream Dream experiments with the relationship between sound and subject, a venture that can only be achieved through Secret Colours’ adamant refusal to assign themselves to just one genre.
“Feed the Machine” is the halfway mark for Dream Dream, and all attention is focused once again on the primary theme of the album; technology and us. While the previous five tracks set out to portray the varying degrees of human emotion, “Feed The Machine” paints a striking image of technology’s invasion of the mind and condemns it.
Now there’s something else growing inside us.
The invasion is now, from creations in us.
Adaptation of dreams.
Now we feed the machine.
From this point on, the album has taken an unabashed turn from the highs of human emotion to the inevitable depths as ‘Boom Boom’ unveils a well-concealed anguish that can be found in the minds of most. Once again, Secret Colours reveal layer upon layer of keen observation in their songwriting, proving their musical talent lies both in the lyrical and production side of things. One of the most notable and intriguing lines of the entire album features in “Boom Boom,” a fascinating metaphor for a troubled mind:
Yes, you hide it well.
I know what it’s like to swim
just to drown, to drown,
to drown, to drown.
The two final tracks before the finishing “Interlude,” “Habitual Ritual” and “Carry On” establish a sense of defeat, but far from surrender. Shouts of anarchy, ‘I just wanna be myself’ run alongside feverish guitars from Novak in Secret Colours’ final stance against conformity. “Habitual Ritual” marks the final act of condemning technology and its suffocating influence on humanity. As for “Carry On.” we’re taken down a more peaceful and accepting route towards conclusion. Despite the finishing interlude, “Carry On”is the essence of a satisfying ending to Dream Dream.
As Evans croons to the bitter end, “All I can say is carry on,” Secret Colours leave the final judgement to their listeners. Dream Dream is merely a statement of the facts and analyses drawn from Secret Colours’ experiences. They neither force the listener to accept their opinion, nor do they lead us to completely dismiss it either. Dream Dream puts the evidence on display; after that, you’re on your own.
A CONVERSATION WITH SECRET COLOURS
Atwood Magazine: Dream Dream explores the growing influence of technology in modern society. How has this issue affected the band personally? What inspired you to make this the subject of your next musical endeavour?
Secret Colours: The record is observational concept record on our society’s obsession with rapidly advancing consumer technologies. It seems, with more and more accessibility to current events, various art forms, consumerism, and the undeniable online social revolution, the human mind is becoming homogenized.
This overall theme of a “digital world” is expressed in different ways throughout the record. The subjects of the songs vary between it’s psychological effects on the mind, political effects on society, and how our basic human instincts are evolving into something else.
It’s clear to see this happening everyday on our screens, it was hard as an artist to ignore, we as a society need to ask ourselves “if we should” instead of blindly doing something “because we can.”
I believe it is important to stay informed on what’s happening in our modern world but it is also important to balance that out by making time to go outside and focus on what exists around you in that moment. What it means to be yourself, and how it feels to be alive.
As a band, your sound varies from one track to another, slipping neatly between different genres throughout. In terms of sound, who have been the band's main influences?
Secret Colours: We are influenced by many different genres of music from psych rock, punk, dub reggae, country, soul, funk… I think that’s why our sound is so colourful. We also have to thank technology partly for our sound. Without access to copious amounts of free music in the last 2 decades we wouldn’t have been exposed to different art forms that now influence us.
The album opens with the eerie track “Another World,” once again acknowledging and subtly criticising the world of technology and “digital distraction.” Through this and other tracks, Dream Dream's musical influences span across decades of different worlds. If given the opportunity to live in any other world than the now, where and when would you choose?
Secret Colours: This one, that is exactly the point of the record. It’s easy to get lost in our own little fantasy worlds we create. For the first time in history it seems it’s harder to live in reality and to be certain of what is true. Or maybe we as a society are opening our eyes to how unbalanced the world we live in really is? I’m not really sure yet but I’m going to keep believing what I see in this world instead of everything on my screen, all the time.
Dream Dream marks your fourth full-length LP, four years since the pop/psychedelic triumph that was Peach. Do you notice any significant changes or developments in Secret Colours' musical direction since then?
Secret Colours: Of course, we are always changing. It’s not natural to exist with one aesthetic for too long. It’s important to be a reflection of your experiences if you want to create something new.
Four albums in four years is an impressive output for any band. Do you find yourselves following any specific formula when it comes to writing and producing an album?
Secret Colours: I certainly have some methods for songwriting I’m drawn to, lately I’ve been a sucker for pop song structure. But I try to make sure the tones and melodies have their own unique colours.
What is your favourite track from the entire album?
Secret Colours: That’s a hard one to answer. It seems to change as hear and preform these tunes. Lately the title track “Dream Dream” has been my favorite. The bass line is infectious.
Could you tell us a bit about Dream Dream's album artwork and why you chose that design in particular?
Secret Colours: We knew we wanted something surrealistic. Our buddy Camilo Mendina of Divino Niño is a brilliant designer and we asked him to listen to our record and design something around what he hears and something that helps express the themes of the record visually.
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