Ugh. It’s not a good feeling when you start off really properly digging an album and invest yourself in it, and even potentially recommend said band to others – and then on five or six further repeat listens realise it’s not for you. Alas, friends and neighbours, this has come to pass as I have gotten familiar with Bay Dream by Culture Abuse.
Initially, the energy and momentum of their surf-kissed indie punk was striking all the right chords for me. Opening track ‘Bay Dream’ feels like Weezer spliced with The Strokes – a total adrenaline shot of smooth, clean melody.
‘Rats in the Walls’ has got the playful, summery vibes of The Beach Boys. I felt myself wanting to just throw myself into it with happy abandon, but a few things made me keep my guard up. The song gets carried away with itself, going all dreamy and floating away of its own accord. Two tracks in is early for an album to lose its structure like that, and there is something about the musicianship which feels incomplete.
This is followed by ‘Dip’, a song which again is absolutely full of beans and kicks into life with real promise, but there isn’t enough depth to it. I’m a firm believer that even very straightforward pop rock should have layers, and that writing simple tunes is every bit as much of a complex art as penning a sprawling prog-rock opera. These tracks just don’t evolve or charm the listener enough.
A few of the tracks do land. ‘Bee Kind to the Bugs’ is a charming ode to self-care, and you quickly find yourself involuntarily singing along. ‘S’Why’ is an example of getting simple right (see previous paragraph) and here the track comes across as totally pure and honest, with all parts flowing together deliciously.
However, overall way too much of this release leaves something to be desired. There are just too many tunes like ‘Calm E’ which just don’t do enough to maintain interest, feeling uninspiring and flat.
Bay Dream does have beauty, but only skin deep, and once the initial novelty has worn off you are left with something rather more ordinary.
You can check a few select cuts from Bay Dream ahead of its release on 15/06/2018 on the Bandcamp player below: