Grimes and Kreayshawn film themselves jacking around for an hour and its front page news. Facebook feeds blow up with updates that everyone is Spotifying the snoozewave album of the year by Beach House. The Rolling Stones might “break up”.
This… is what obscures an album like Dream Mine. Stock popularity.
Look, things, people become popular for a reason. But like the bumper sticker says- just because it’s popular, doesn’t mean it’s good, and just because it’s good, doesn’t mean it’s popular (similarly, it’s important to be reminded that one doesn’t have to hate on it because it’s popular nor does one have to love it because it’s not popular). This album will not compel every ear. But the ones that it does- they will be sucked into it, obliged to make bold, clichéd statements such as “album of the year thus far”, “the bar has just been raised”, and “no one is safe.”
Dream Mine is nearly split down the middle with equal numbers of conventional amped up garage rock and those of unique, experimental/ambient bent instrumentals/samples. The Album conjures an aural séance with Detroit 1972; a ghostly, impressionistic, fragmented channeling of that booze/broken glass/blood rock’n’roll scene. Directly so, as in the 7 minute plus cover of “I Wanna Be Your Dog”; but also in the other tracks consisting of foundation shaking, dropkicking, wheelie popping rock’n’roll. It’s a decidedly crude sound; drums run amok, guitars trudging, raw vocals, free woots; invoking visions of bath-salt fueled motorcycle rampages across the American wasteland. The best descriptor maybe the title of Les Rallizes Denudes’ classic album- Heavier Than a Death in the Family.
But Lantern really flirts with the near-genius in their abstract handling of the subject matter in relation to the instrumental numbers. In the fuzz orgy of “You Can’t Deny Me Revisited” you can hear the jams forever being kicked out; somewhere between the snare pops of “Untitled”, the world’s forgotten boy is searching and destroying, and the reverberating gonging of “Fools Gold” will echo down the lines of your face and hands.
The concluding track of the album, “Train Song”, is pure inspiration. It begins with a looped sample of a train chugging down the track. And then Zachary Fairbrother’s vocals advance over the sample, sounding like some sort of post-modern blues.
I heard once that when asked about his concept album, God Loves Ugly, Slug (of Atmosphere) replied that all albums are concept albums- it’s just that some concepts are shitty. And this is why Dream Mine stands out so starkly. About a billion bands have ripped off The Stooges/MC5/Alice Cooper, producing what amounts to cover albums. Which can be fine and entertaining, but that is not breaking new ground. Lantern had their concept- and they could have realized it with 9 tracks of garage crap and called it a cassette. But they didn’t. They EXPLORED it. They EXECUTED it in an interesting and innovative manner. It draws one in with intrigue- why this sample, why that noisey beat, why does it play off the previous song so well even though they are wildly different? Good artists do 2 things- They make a great connection, and they make you see/understand that connection. Lantern succeeds in this regard. It’s a success that unfortunately and unduly will probably be overshadowed. But it’s a success none the less. A success that very well could be album of the year thus far. The bar has just been raised. No one is safe.
Words: Brad Krohe