Tides of Man – Dreamhouse
Record Label: Rise Records
Release Date: September 14, 2010
When a band releases an impressive debut record, there’s a lot of pressure on them to release a great follow-up. In 2009, I discovered progressive-rock/post-hardcore band Tides of Man through a review of debut record Empire Theory in an issue of Alternative Press magazine. It was a time before I really enjoyed music like them, so it was ultimately a bit of an introduction to the genre and this band. I downloaded the record on iTunes, and fell in love with it, needless to say. It’s a brilliant record, but the record felt longwinded at times. Everything was great, including vocalist Tilian Pearson’s high, yet powerful voice, his lyrics that told a story of war and mercy, and the instrumentation from the rest of the band. Despite that, it still dragged on ever so slightly. Some songs were too ambitious for their own good. It almost as though the band themselves wanted the record to be sprawling and spacious. That’s exactly what it was, but it did get rather boring at times. It wasn’t bad, and it was certainly ambitious, but it was too long for its own good. Sophomore record Dreamhouse (and the last to feature Pearson) took everything that I didn’t really like about Empire Theory, and improved it. The record was much more energetic, with a few breaks here and there, the lyrics were more focused, and the record knew when to be spacious and when to more forward. Tilian Pearson was also at the top of his game, too. His voice has always been a very unique one, because he mainly sings with a higher register, similar to Circa Survive vocalist Anthony Green, yet still managing to have a powerful voice.
Dreamhouse basically took everything that I enjoyed about Empire Theory and the band themselves and amplified by a hundred. This record isn’t perfect, which is going to happen with a majority of records one may encounter, but the flaws are mainly nitpicks, and don’t really hinder the experience of the entire record. That’s how a record should be. There may be flaws, but they don’t get in the way of the record itself. This record doesn’t have too many. If anything, the only real flaws of the record are with the instrumentation. Well, sort of. The musicianship is still very solid, but Tides of Man’s sound became a bit more energetic, rather than sprawling and spacious instrumentals. Gone were the five to seven minute songs and more so “formulaic” songs were in their place. Songs about three to five minutes that were your average verse-chorus-verse-chorus-bridge-chorus combo are almost what the entire record is composed of. These songs are enjoyable, and they definitely have a bit more of a pop hook to them, but while Empire Theory dragged on a bit, there were still some very ambitious moments on it. A couple of songs on Dreamhouse do have a more ambitious and slower sound, but for the most part, they’re chorus oriented with still very impressive instrumentation, especially guitarwork. Their guitarwork has always been something that’s really impressed me. Their guitarwork almost reminds me of a band like Dance Gavin Dance, whose guitarwork is also very interesting. It’s rather funny because Pearson joined DGD earlier this year, and they’re set to release Acceptance Speech in October of 2013.
Speaking of Pearson, as I said earlier on in the review, he’s at the top of his game on this record. With Empire Theory, I felt as though he was holding back a bit. He was great on the record, but because the record was so quiet and chilled out, he didn’t get a chance to really unleash his higher register, and when he did, it wasn’t for long. On this record, he unleashes his all. The record even starts with his higher register on “Not My Love 2,” which I guess is a sequel to a song of the name on Empire Theory. This is a great opener. After Pearson sings a bit, guitarist Spencer Gill and rhythm guitarist Daniel Miller really help to drive the song along, as with the entire record. I love the guitar work on this record, because it’s not too technical and obnoxious, but it’s still unorthodox and unpredictable enough to be very interesting. The downside, though, is that despite the really interesting guitar work and instrumentation, the songs do suffer from a bit of a formula, even if the formula doesn’t result from the instrumentation itself. It’s more of the structure of the songs, rather than the songs themselves. For Empire Theory, they really went outside of the box, and it was a really odd record, but in a very good way. This one is much more tight knit and not as free-flowing. It still flows, but the songs are shorter, and much more to the point. Nonetheless, they are memorable, such as “Home,” the title track, “Chemical Fires,” and “A Faint Illusion.” The latter track is actually the one that does deviate from the “formula” of the record, and ultimately, one of my favorites. It’s about five minutes, and it’s a bit slower than the rest of the songs. Lyrically, it’s also very interesting, too. It’s about a man who is in a relationship with a call girl, or an exotic dancer, for the lack of a better term. And it’s just interesting to me how Pearson paints this picture. Finally, last track “Only Human” is also kind of deviates from it, but not too much. This is a great closing track, but it’s a shame it had to end.
The other songs I mentioned are great as well, even if they do run together slightly. A few songs really don’t do much for me, but as a whole, the record really holds up. It’s’ a beautiful album, despite the formula that they use a bit. It’s not distracting, because the songs themselves are great, and Pearson’s voice is truly remarkable. It may not click with everyone, and he does use his higher register a lot, but even then, his voice is great. Combined with the instrumentation, this is a fantastic record, and a nice way to spend about 40 minutes.