Fiercely poppy second effort from Limerick No Doubt soundalikes
Rating: 8 / 10
Celina Murphy, 12 Aug 2010
We Should Be Dead are no strangers to bubblegum pop, as anyone who picked up 2008 debut Forget Romance, Let’s Dance! will testify. The album title itself functioned as something of a rallying cry for the Limerick (now) trio, a call to arms, as it were, to reject troubling memories of relationships past and just… well, shake it.
Tara Nix’s robust vocals are back in full force for album number two and again, there’s something in the name. This time ‘round, We Should Be Dead’s colourful ska-pop has been prodded and tasered with fuzzy synth hooks, giving Dreamstate a dizzy, trance-like gleam.
Falling somewhere between Kelly Clarkson and Gwen Stefani, Nix’s power croon is never more outlandishly delicious than on the oddly satisfying rap that kicks off proceedings, ‘Right Back At You’. ‘Code Red’ sees the punky songstress soar to the top of her range, but the Korg blasts in just in time to halt her on her trip to diva country.
It’s not all good news, though. Rather bizarrely, Dreamstate swerves haphazardly from being hugely irritating to undeniably thrilling, often a couple of times per song. Take stand-out ‘I Love To Make Boys Cry’ for example; the twee call and response of the verse grates like talons on a chalk board, while the warped synth that simmers through the chorus is damn near genius.
Apart from a few inspired synth breaks (see the funhouse hook on ‘Feed My Hunger’ and pretty much all of ‘Electric’), we’ve heard this ballsy guitar pop more than a few times before. Shopwarn lyrics do little to revolutionise matters, as Nix rarely deviates from the tried and tested topics of break-ups and melt-downs.
Still, for all its twists and turns, what you have here is a consistent blend of ‘90s punk, third generation ska and Pipettes-brand pop rock.
Dreamstate is an intermittently engaging album with bags of ‘tude. Sharp, hooky and chock-full of feisty punk soul – all in all, a very welcome serving of homegrown ear candy.
Key Track: ‘I Love To Make Boys Cry’