“Between Places is an enjoyable record in many ways. It is immediate, but rewards repeat listens to really discover everything that’s going on in the background…”
Young Dreams | Between Places
Young Dreams know how to write a pop song. On ‘Between Places’, the Norwegian group combine catchy songwriting with eclectic instrumentation to create a sound that feels like the Beach Boys updated for 2013. It is fun without being dumb; ambitious but not bloated.
Album opener, ‘Footprints’ begins with fuzzy synths and rumbling drums that give way to a wall of strings and densely layered vocal harmonies. Reverb is applied freely, blending all of the disparate sounds together, and developing a sense of atmosphere without lessening the various instruments’ impact. The song lays the sonic template for the rest of the album, which features similar instrumentation and production throughout.
Though the band, which contains anywhere from four to 12 members at a time, delves into some very busy orchestration, singer Matias Tellez’ powerful voice cuts through the mix, providing some consistency amidst the constantly shifting melodies and instrumentation. On ‘Wounded Hearts Forever’, his vocals are noticeably dry and unaffected amidst a wall of reverbsoaked instruments.
Throughout the album, Young Dreams seamlessly blend sequenced electronic instruments into the mix with their live performances, managing to create a sound that feels human through and through. Though cluttered at times, the hodgepodge of instruments playing at any given time never get in the way of the songs’ catchiness. Tracks like, ‘First Days of Something’, and the eponymous, ‘Young Dreams’, find a perfect balance, building from simple melodies into gigantic movements.
However, for all of the expert songwriting and musicianship displayed on ‘Between Places’, the band never switch things up. The tracks seem almost interchangeable, with few of them standing out amongst the others. While the latter half of the album is as strong as the first, it just doesn’t go anywhere. By the time the harp intro kicks in on, ‘Dream Alone, Wake Together’, it feels as if the band are simply going through the motions. That is not to say that it becomes boring. It just becomes easy listening, failing to grab the listener.
One exception to this rule is the sudden change of pace on ‘Through the Turnstiles’. Seemingly out of nowhere, the entire band stops its celebratory shuffle and shifts into an eerie, floating horn section, only to change again into a progression that sounds incredibly similar to that on The Beatles’ ‘Because’. It is a welcome change that pays homage to what is obviously a huge influence for the psychedelicinspired band.
‘Between Places’ is an enjoyable record in many ways. It is immediate, but rewards repeat listens to really discover everything that’s going on in the background. The sound is at once current and rooted in the past. While it does get a bit repetitive, the lack of variety is more than offset by the quality of songwriting and performance.