Fresh out of L.A, DREAMCAR is the latest project conceived by Davey Havok of AFI/Blaqk, alongside Adrian Young, Tom Dumont, and Tony Kanal of No Doubt. A first glance at the line-up might lead one to ponder the future of No Doubt as we know it, but make no mistake; one listen and it’s obvious that DREAMCAR is by no means a refashioning of No Doubt, nor is Havok an intended replacement for Gwen Stefani. Since 2014, the new found four-piece have worked collaboratively and experimentally in a surprising new direction; delivering a melodic, vibrant and uplifting blend of 80’s synth-pop and new wave. Much to the excitement of eager fans; a string of April shows were announced across California and Arizona, for what would become an entirely sold out affair. Produced by Tim Pagnotta, the self-titled LP debuted on the 12th of May 2017 through Columbus Records.

The record opens with “After I confessed”, starting off with shrieking guitar, followed by a brief mellowing before punching into a soaring chorus. Love it or hate it, it’ll catch on one in the same.

The second track “Kill For Candy” was released March 2nd as the leading single, kicking off the hype with a flamboyant burst of groove that’s sure to inspire a head-bop or two. Ambient guitar echoes saturate snappy drum beats and an elated chorus, invoking probable cause to find oneself throwing in a sway here and a foot tap there; making for an infectious full-bodied boogie. An accompanying music video was later released for the single with a colourful nod to retro.

Gliding into “Born To Lie”, instant impressions strike the notion that the tune could easily be regarded as a modern day “Friday I’m In Love” by The Cure. Havok’s vocal delivery bares undertones reminiscent of Robert Smith, with particular reference to the chorus. Thinking back to classic 80’s teen romance films, the song would fit smoothly into their soundtracks. A sure-fire nostalgic delight.

“On The Charts” is one of the most fun and upbeat tunes on the record with the simple yet effective hook ‘all the boys’. The first verse a strong throwback to Madonna’s classic hit “Vogue”. It effortlessly invites you to sing, hum, or lip sync along.

Despite all of the cheesy “oooh’s’, I quite enjoy the amount of sass dripping from “All Of The Dead Girls”. The lyric: “all of the dead girls love me, the gone boys do, so why can’t you?’ chimes a chipper yet sarcastic expression of frustration with unrequited love, dressed in a fun ability to laugh at one’s own misfortune. It’s the kind of song that would have teenage girls singing into a hairbrush and dancing in front of the mirror (and loving every second of it!).

“Ever Lonely” belts out a meditation on heartache, but in such a way that Havok sounds happy, even celebratory, about it. An interesting (yet somewhat confusing) contrast of lyrical content vs the consistent energetic enthusiasm immersed in every rippling riff, coupled with the sizzle and pound of drums.

“The Assailant” provides an intermission from the lively pop jives, granting listeners the chance to sit back and catch their breath to some easy listening. The tune bares more of a ballad feel without fully simmering down from the effervescent surge of synth that DREAMCAR consistently inject into their sound.

“The Preferred” is another track that gives off a Madonna-esque vibe. It is somewhat anthemic, whilst bass becomes a humble focal point with sharp funky grooves flowing steadily throughout.

“Slip On The Moon” pertains essence of Bruce Springsteen, with particular reference to “Dancing In The Dark”.

“Don’t Let Me Love” is your average love ballad. Not bad, not outstanding, just aligning with the standard formula for many other songs of it’s kind.

Boasting the line ‘you do absolutely nothing for me, but don’t ignore me’, “Do Nothing” revisits the sass of ‘All Of The Dead Girls” with an unapologetic exertion of egotistical confidence. However, Havok’s execution of this manages to dilute the tone just enough to salvage it from becoming entirely neurotic.

The vocal melodies in “Show Me Mercy” are quite beautiful; enriched with emotion that beckons you to feel the desperation and despair. The opening guitar riff was an instant reminder of “White Wedding” by Billy Idol.

So does DREAMCAR live up to the hype? Well in short, it is a well-rounded record overall consistent in style and sound. A clear selection of highlights with great potential to become hits. It inspires good vibes and an urge to dance throughout. However in my personal opinion I’d say the lines blur between a few tracks, but this is made up for in its accurate portrayal of 80’s synth-pop nostalgia. That could be viewed by some as lacking in originality or jumping on the copy-cat train, but I’ll leave that one for the individual to decide.



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