There is half a good album here, and there’s no other way to put it. Primary Dreaming in Stereo member Fernando Perdomo has a heck of a time balancing the disparate worlds of power pop and prog rock, sometimes achieving a nice cross-section, as on the tune “Decisions, Decisions,” boasting a feel of Bachelor #2-era Aimee Mann or the pretty “Let Me Love You.”
Other times the songs are bogged down with beeping, sweeping electronics hiding the thin foundation of unfinished songwriting. “Misery Loves Companies” is the second song on the album, but the first uptempo track with vocals and therein lies part of the problem. The actual line, “Misery loves companies that make drugs and alcohol” is clever, but is repeated so often that the wit of the phrase is rendered annoying, just as those electronics try to mask bum notes in the singing. This is a constant problem with Dreaming in Stereo: the repetition of lines is not supported by strong enough hooks to bear the weight. If anything, those repetitions draw your attention to the extraneous noises, a la Flaming Lips.
But for every clunker is a solid tune, if not a world-beating winner. When the Casiotone is set aside and Perdomo is allowed to work the guitar to the fullest, the results are quite memorable. “The Will to Love” doesn’t sound like it comes from the same album at all. Although the lyrical variety is strained, the melodic components of vocal harmonies and tasty, almost ’70s L.A. guitar carry the song nicely. In the end, Dreaming in Stereo makes itself a candidate for iTunes status and judicious cherry-picking due to inconsistency, but it isn’t an outright failure either.
Dreaming in Stereo can be purchased at Amazon.com