Dream Pop is now a bona-fide ‘thing’. In times of yore (or the 1980s and early 90s, if you prefer), it became an interchangeable phrase used when you had exhausted your weekly quota of using ‘shoe-gaze’ to describe a more thoughtful, wispy, elongated style of song-writing. Occasionally, perhaps only by myself, it was also possible to replace this with the phrase ‘stultifyingly dull and pretentious’. Exasperating and tawdry outfits like A.R.Kane and This Mortal Coil threw melody out with the bath water in exchange for looking into the distance and high-pitched mumbling but got away with it due to an Emperor’s New Clothes conceit of it being too clever for you, should you not like it. Wise to their game, I disliked them very early on and have stuck to my guns. I was correct, obviously, as history will show.
Perhaps worse was Shoegaze, maybe the least appealing name for anything in popular culture, which still managed to underplay the gravity of the interminable and dour torment you were going to suffer. So self-satisfied were these strands that they didn’t even notice when some bands out-thought and out-manoeuvred them: Cocteau Twins; The Sundays; Opel and their progeny, Mazzy Star, plus a handful of others, injected melody, added more considered instrumentation and [puts on granddad hat] proper singing. More recently, Sigor Ros have amassed applause a-plenty, despite forgetting to write songs to fit their noises. ‘Dream’ – ok, I get that, all ethereal and drifty; ‘Pop’ – songs. You whistle or hum along. It seems a straight-forward concept.
And so, to Amethysts. Neither with the agonising cud-chewing languor of those earlier mentioned, nor the 20 minute struggle to turn off the sustain pedal, this is, thank the elements, Dream Pop. Just over three minutes, like a sensible single, it’s contemplative and teeth-squeakingly pure. Simon’s guitar work sings exquisitely, pulled like a shoelace through extremely pleasing pensioner synths and a paddling drum machine. At times it threatens to turn into the theme to Cannibal Holocaust. Imagine a pop song that did that – tremendous! Clarice’s voice is a knee-buckling pot of melted nightingale song, the fragile strength, yet stoic surety showing up the false pretenders as the charlatans they are. And don’t get me started on The Charlatans. It is possible to write pop songs with intelligence, without acting like a twat. Here’s proof.