Monday, February 04, 2008

Review: Thieves & Liars - When Dreams Become Reality


Label: Facedown Records/Dreamt Music

Released: January 22, 2008

When Dreams Become Reality would be an ambitious album even if it was the fourth or fifth release for San Diego's Thieves & Liars. As a debut, it's even more impressive. They draw on a lot of influences, some of which entrench them in hard rock and others which allow them to step outside. The music sits on a solid hard rock basis that ties the album together. From there, they reach out to a variety of influences. At times, they focus on the space rock freak-outs of early-to-mid-period Pink Floyd and at others on the powerful energy of Led Zeppelin. The album has no shortage of heavy power trio riffing, but still makes room for occasional touches of both Deep Purple and Motorhead. I suppose I could do without the overblown, power ballad strings on "Alone," though, oddly enough, not on "Forgotten," which expands well beyond the silly 80s soft-side-of-hard-rock conventions. Still, these are minor points. The biggest trouble is that, despite their ability to maintain a consistent sound beneath the overt influences, they never seem to bring several things together at once. Instead, it tends to be more like Thieves & Liars & Floyd on one track, followed by Thieves & Liars & Zeppelin on the next. They certainly have the ability to incorporate some of the best heavy and trippy rock in history into their sound, they merely need to stir it up a bit more. Does this keep the album from being good? Certainly not. It is very good and perhaps a few tweaks short of great.

As if bringing together a variety of sounds wasn't ambitious enough, When Dreams Become Reality is a concept album. It follows the story of St. Joseph as he is faced with the difficult decision of being engaged to a pregnant girl. Remember, this was a time and place where adultery resulted in some unpleasantness, often stoning. Joseph is given a mission from God and yet he can decide to ignore that if he chooses. For Christians and non-Christians alike, the story is an inspiring one, particularly in trying times when the right path isn't always the easy one. The concept album is tricky territory for even a more experienced band and often results in either the music being compromised or the concept itself becoming muddled. Thieves & Liars avoid both difficulties, producing music that can both stand on its on and work within the story. Most importantly, particularly for a young band, Thieves & Liars don't get bogged down being something they're not. Sure they have some trouble mixing their influences at times, but through it all, they always manage to sound like themselves.

Rating: 7/10

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5 Comments:

Blogger Ray Van Horn, Jr. said...

you definitely scrutinized better than I did since I fell into a trance after the first couple listens

10:19 PM  
Blogger bob_vinyl said...

I hope I didn't overstate my complaints, because it was dangerously close to being an outstanding record.

10:47 PM  
Blogger Metal Mark said...

I have listened to about three songs off this so far. I need to find time to listen to the whole thing at some point.

1:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wasn't impressed...

5:30 AM  
Anonymous 760_DeathRow said...

So terrible

3:20 AM  

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