Canadian quartet, Consilience, aren’t afraid to nestle in under the ‘dream pop’ tag. Considering the band’s almost unwavering love of hypnotic vocal filters, lumbering piano work and melodies which smack of exploration, the genre label is perhaps an apt one. It would be remiss, however, to suggest that Consilience make no efforts to differentiate themselves from the tropes which we have come to expect from the genre.
Under Our Beds is the group’s debut full-length release, yet there are clear moments on the record of mature instrumental choices and tonal blends. This can perhaps be put down to the group being comprised of members from some of Alberta’s revered indie outfits, including Wool on Wolves and Diamond Mind. It is in this seasoned manner that the record begins, with “Grim”. The band show an impressive ability to reconcile their dreamy texture with an underlying sense of movement. Remarkably, the momentum created by the group’s crisp guitar work and vigorous drum fills never seems to get in the way of the calm, if meandering, vocal melodies. We’re able to appreciate the placid facade, but also the beast lurking behind it.
From here, the band make the decision to put the momentum on ice, and focus more on their ability capture that dreamy aura. From “Home Soon” to “The Only Time I Choose”, Consilience begin a gradual descent into the album’s gooey, mellow core. The subtlety of their retreat from energy is admirable, if a little one-sided. By “Secrets”, the album’s fifth track, we’re quite aware of the fact that the band are really just crafting a series of dream pop-style piano ballads. The music at this point lacks hooks, which wouldn’t be such a problem if it wasn’t so repetitive in its instrumentation. Yes, the ethereal dynamic remains, but it’s not sustainable, and many will grow tired of the album by this point.
Hopefully, the repetition found at the heart of the album doesn’t cause listeners to turn away, as it is in the final stages of the record that Consilience show us their best work. Whilst the music is still a little wayward in terms of clear hooks or memorable vocal melodies, we’re at least drawn in by the creative instrumental blends found on “Soft And Slow”. Here, the group remain true to the cornerstones of their dream pop style, whilst also making clear efforts to diversify. The track’s time signature changes and fluent chordal movements have almost a psychedelic vibe about them. The album continues to remind us of Consilience’s ability to write grounded, fully realised songs with “Walking Through A Dead Night”, which continues the precedent set by “Soft And Slow”.
The album phases out in the mellow style which has typified it, but it’s not without its moments of very developed songwriting. While some may find its early portions lacking in creativity, the album can at least be said to have saved the best for last. I can’t help but feel that some listeners will be turned off by the build-up to these moments of variety which, admittedly, does get a little bit formulaic.
Review by Jasper Bruce