DREAM THE ELECTRIC SLEEP – American Mystic (2023)
The “catchy but complex” paradox is an ever present problem in prog rock music. Can you write music that is complicated without overdoing it and putting off the average listener? Can you explore complex themes without coming across as preachy or ham-fisted?
Exploring this tension is exactly what makes DREAM THE ELECTRIC SLEEP so good. They somehow manage to write thematically and musically complex progressive music, but they also are able to pack it into anthemic rock with singable choruses and catchy melodies all on ‘song format’.
Their new album ”American Mystic” doesn’t have a specific concept or consistent storyline, per se, but the through line seems to be an intentional channeling of universal, modern, existential themes, and viewing modern life through a musical lens.
Musically, the tightness of the album might also have something to do with the help of acclaimed producer Michael Beinhorn. The band enlisted him to develop their sound further, and they described the process of working with Beinhorn as “grueling but fantastic”, as he pushed the band to new grounds.
Following a harmony laden intro (called “And The Buried Rise”), “Beyond Repair” kicks off the album with big chords and harmonies. Odd times in the verses even out for a highly singable and catchy chorus. This song is the perfect representation of that palatable, radio-worthy rock/pop that Dream The Electric Sleep is so good at creating, and the lyrics tap so well into that aforementioned modern malaise that seems to be ever present.
“Forged in the Furnace” similarly has an epic feel, and at this point, it becomes abundantly clear that this album leans into vocal harmonies- big, stacked Devin Townsend-style vocal chords, as well as huge, epic guitar chords- further evidenced by the start of “After The Fallout”.
“The Lessons They Bring” is the epic track of the album, clocking at 9 minutes. It’s a more somber and reflective piece that explores busy arrangements, all melodic, with an absolutely blistering ending. Title track “American Mystic” is a gradual crescendo, ending with washes of atmosphere and energy.
“Steal the Love” is a really well crafted pop-rock song that is beautifully energetic, and still, proggy. “Love Letters”, is more upbeat, with a driving energy and gorgeous CSNY-like harmonies. And finally, the album closer, “Lay Down The Cross”, begins with a huge intro (in which drummer Joey Waters goes absolutely nuts), but progresses into a massive finale, which would also be a fitting end to a live concert, with big solos and choruses and a feeling of musical catharsis.
‘American Mystic’ is a great showcase for the diversity and skill of the band, without dragging or meandering. The economy and polish of these tracks means the album leaves you wanting more, which is a fantastic problem for a band to face.
Dream The Electric Sleep manages to craft hooks and lean into rock&pop sensibilities without completely eschewing their progressive tendencies.
Highly recommended for fans of brilliant, thoughtful rock music with progressive leanings.
01 – And The Buried Rise
02 – Beyond Repair
03 – Forged in the Furnace
04 – After the Fallout
05 – The Lessons They Bring
06 – American Mystic
07 – Steal the Love
08 – Love Letters
09 – Lay Down The Cross
Matt Page: Vocals, Guitar, Keyboards
Chris Tackett: Bass, Keyboard, Backing Vocals
Joey Waters: Drums, Backing Vocals