Three years on from their last efforts, Dream On Dreamer are back with their fourth album It Comes and Goes. Quite the opposite of the album title can be said about some of the tracks from this album however – they are not songs that come and go, but rather sit and stir within. The Melbourne post-hardcore five-piece have gone out of their way to make an apparent shift in sound and more importantly; tone.
In the years since their last album, Songs of Soulitude, a lot has seemingly transpired in the lives of the band. Toxic relationships and cancer diagnoses have plagued the spirits of Dream On Dreamer but that has only fueled the fire more than ever before.
The leading track “Let It In” briefly opens the album in an ominous world devoid of hope. The band quickly kicks into gear and lets us have it as the words begin to fly. Arguably the most anthemic piece from the album, the song provides a glimpse of a man shackled by someone close by. This is a direct nod to the self-described abusive relationship vocalist Zach Britt found himself in. It’s not long that we are trapped in this world before being urged to stand up and break free of the chains weighing us down.
Before we know it, we’re being swept up in the track “Voices”. Continuing the discussion of struggles in a relationship, this song provides some more insight into the back and forth Britt faced. There’s a feeling of true heartache in this piece, literally describing a heart being strangled; drained of life. It’s a real picture of the couple’s bond itself, being squeezed of life but fighting for survival. We see the techniques used to stay afloat with words like “Focus, repair,” being repeated over and over – like they did for years before.
One of the more melodic and softer tracks, “Runaway” is the third song of the album and so far, the third song about Britt’s relationship struggle. Feeling much like a relapse, the words “Just run away with me” paint a desperate man afraid of letting go. The instrumentation is gentle and loving in a harsh, toxic kind of way. While the imagery is strong and truly cutting stuff, I can’t help but feel the lack of diversity in the storytelling so far in the album is a little tolling.
“Stay”, a track that has been in the wild since 2016, again puts us in a gentler world, almost nurturing in a time of hardship. Struggling for air, pleading with their other to “cut through the ice so I can breath.” It feels like an apology for the other’s wrongdoings and a plea for help – the sad reality of this is the addiction-like behaviour that’s written about here. Sometimes, these things are like an addiction that’s killing you; it’s hard to be killed by it but even harder to let go.
Hearing the title “Same Old War”, it doesn’t seem hard to imagine what we’re in for again. This track however, starts to take a step in a new direction – distancing itself somewhat from the talk of relationships and more about personal struggle. While we know what’s caused the struggle, the message feels far more about improving oneself and not mending a broken partnership. It does feel like the clouds are beginning to part and let some light through; an appropriate shift given the following track.
“Shine” is where we can finally stand up for ourselves and kudos to Dream On Dreamer for making me also grow tired of being down in the dumps. I, along with them, want to stand up and walk on my own now. The lighter vocals and more bouncy rhythm make me feel as though a weight has been lifted, the aforementioned chains have been broken. It seems like the final relapse is behind us with departing lyrics saying a nasty goodbye to the previous life.
The next track to cross our paths is “Drag Me Down” and it has ditched the friendly melodies for a more brutal collection of sound. The combined sound and vengeful lyrics, “I hope now you’ll be on your own,” really paint an aggressive picture. The wool is no longer over any eyes and it’s clear how cruel this treatment was. The only true reaction is anger but don’t fret, you’ll no longer be dragged down.
So far, the stages of the album feel like dealing with a death. There has been denial, depression, acceptance, some bargaining and lastly the anger we just saw.
The next track features Jarrad Salton from the Melbourne band, Antiskeptic. “Don’t Lose Your Heart” feels like a tribute to a friend, a helping hand in the dark pulling us out. This is the stage where we accept and begin to move on, “Part of being accepted, is to accept yourself”. Powerful words.
“Paper Thin” begins to close out the album as we are almost at the finish line but feels rather out of place honestly. While the tone is fairly passive and fleeting of the more morose tones we’ve heard earlier, the content of this song belongs back with the previous sounds. This song is a dip in the rise we have just come off, putting us back down and detailing the now, crushed, self-esteem. It feels more like “Shine” would have fit better at this stage, encouraging us to stand up and march forward.
We are on the final stretch with “Tell Me Why”, the album’s encore-esque closing track. The curtains have closed, and frankly should have on a higher note – but have reopened for one more somber piece. The song demands answers, “Tell me why you broke our love”. The song is beautifully soft and easily crosses the boundaries into more widely popular genres, sacrificing the harder roots for a more synth-pop sound. Which at this point isn’t a bad thing to cleanse the palette. The song repeats itself over and over like the nights spent lying awake wondering ‘why?’
The album really relies heavily on emotion and doesn’t borrow much from other categories. At a nice ten tracks, the album does feel like a track or two could have been culled due to repetition – and the message would still be received loud and clear. Though it’s a heartbreak of an album with many low points and some fantastic high points, I think structure was the downfall of the piece; had it been used a little better, it could have been quite advantageous. While it is respectable, I think a few tracks of the album do let it down a little. The start is a very punchy and raw sound with a great concept, but it draws on this for too long and the flames begin to flicker. A truly moving story with beautiful imagery, It Comes and Goes leaves a little to be imagined but not much.
Catch Dream On Dreamer on tour now: http://www.dreamondreamerband.com/tour
Filled with fantastic imagery. Details the struggle of a toxic relationship and the addiction it can boil down to. Packs a punch with a few powerful songs.
Repetition. Build ups that fizzle out instead of going somewhere. Few too many tracks with similar messages. At times, repetitious of sound.