Formed on tour in 2010, Dream Police is the side project of The Men’s Nick Chiericozzi and Mark Perro. Together, the duo have used the project to indulge every whim that doesn’t work with their main band. Following an extensive 2013 tour in support of Open Your Heart, the two finally sat down to jam out ideas and make a record. Six months later, the duo’s first album, Hypnotized, was finished.
According to the duo, the album began to take shape once drum machines were added to “Pouring Rain”, far and away its best song. Opening with chiming guitars laced with a delay effect, the six-minute track runs with searing synths and well-crafted hooks. “Hypnotized” is another success. Featuring a pulsating bass riff and a tangible groove, the track hearkens back to ’70s New York punk. A band seemingly named after a Cheap Trick song, Dream Police hardly play power pop. Though they bill their music as “a cloud of future primitive psychedelia,” there are also hints of Krautrock on songs like “Pouring Rain” mixed in with shoegaze moodiness on “All We Are”. It’s a blistering combination at times, but for much of the album it’s scatterbrained to a fault.
While many of the ideas on Hypnotized are promising, many are also beaten to death. Some offerings, like “My Mama’s Dead”, aimlessly repeat the same phrases in an endless barrage. It’s an exhausting track on purpose, though its placement as the second song on the album distracts from the positive forward momentum of the opener. Other times, like on the instrumental “Let It Be”, peppy drum machines, pastoral guitars, and fluttering synths spark a jam that could be a minute or two shorter despite recalling the piecemeal charm of The War on Drugs’ first album. “John”, one of the album’s stronger tracks, saunters through a bluesy riff that loops through its four-and-a-half-minute runtime. Here, however, there’s enough atmosphere to keep the song centered. With all these restated musical ideas and phrases, along with their loose, jammy execution, Dream Police make the often freewheeling and ramshackle Men seem like strict professionals.
As Hypnotized draws to a close, it throws another curveball with “Sandy”. The track is a meditative and rambling folk ballad with New York musician Holly Overton taking lead vocal duties. Contrasted with the noisy, Kraut-inspired psychedelia of the previous tracks, it’s a jarring end. And, considering the line “the church bells are ringing,” its inclusion of actual church bells is too on the nose.
Though Dream Police is a side project, an outlet for Chiericozzi and Perro to take risks, Hypnotized is too messy and too insistent in some of its ill-advised ideas to be considered alongside the duo’s primary work.
Essential Tracks: “Pouring Rain”, “John”, and “Hypnotized”