Pretty much everyone these days talks about how their band defies
genre labels, and pretty much everyone sounds like they're a little
too pleased with themselves, and a bit too tired of the rest of
us, when they say it. Bockman, however, go out on a limb
and call themselves "psychedelic prog-pop," which is
refreshingly honest, even if it just means they sound like The
Slip, TV On The Radio, and maybe a less formulaic Guster.
They take their name from a Kurt Vonnegut Jr.'s book,
but there's no ironic absurdity in the songs on Chasing Dragons.
In fact, it can be said with absolute sincerity that four of the
first five tracks are very cool. Album opener "Tied To The
Moon" summons the kind of euphoric vibrancy that only a prominent
piano and layers of harmony vocals can impart. Lyrically, there
aren't many hooks, but Andrew Weir's oddly new wave vocal
style works well as a fifth instrumental voice and the use of
synthesizer on songs like "Isis" reminds us that the
most memorable parts of some songs aren't the lyrics in the chorus.
Bockman keeps the synth under control, too, unlike many bands
that get a kick out of "challenging" our notions of
what pop music should sound like. Songs like "Rad"
mix electronic and acoustic timbres in ways that suggest pianos
and keyboards have more in common than just 88 keys. On "Squirrel
View" the bass rolls beneath the song in tandem with the
keyboard and trance-inducing chopping guitar chords. It's clear
these players are skilled, not just at writing songs, but figuring
out how much of any one sound is too much, and then taking a
Unfortunately, Chasing Dragons is front-loaded. By the
time "Cruel Morning Dreams" rolls from a rock n' roll
backbeat into a halting waltz, the album has lost the momentum
that made its first twenty minutes so promising. A horn-driven
chorus brings "Tumble" close, but it doesn't quite get
there. Worse, the four tunes that wrap things up are largely forgettable,
leaving the impression Chasing Dragons would have been
a killer EP, but doesn't quite make the long-player cut.
1. Tied to the Moon
3. Squirrel View
6. Cruel Morning Dreams
8. Live it Out
9. Of Delirium
10. Chasing Dragons
11. The Calm Before
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