Dream pop is a genre that often fails to excite me. Although I enjoy its rather calming, vibey palette, I find that so many artists sound the same, however, club sofa’s self-titled debut does not succumb to this. The Vancouver-based band offers a distinct, yet simultaneously familiar sound, proving themselves to be masters of the genre.
Upon initially listening to the album, a few things immediately stood out. While not entirely rejecting traditional elements of dream pop, many tracks have a level of energy that is not always present in the genre, a key factor in the band’s unique sound. Furthermore, every bandmate is able to showcase their talent, especially through extended instrumental features in tracks like “No Frills.” Lead singer Payton Hansen’s versatile voice is one of the album’s greatest strengths. Not only does she wield a powerful voice with great range, but she knows how to utilize this to great effect. In “Myspace 2009,” she alternates between singing, speaking and shouting, reminiscing about a summer romance and bad decisions with both frustration and a self-deprecating humour.
Each song on the LP offers a distinct sound. The album’s third track, “Bed Song,” is upbeat and groovy, while “Beach Bum Baby” is quite minimalistic and provides Hansen yet another opportunity truly show off her vocal talent. Another stand-out is the aforementioned “No Frills,” a short, but incredibly energetic song that almost forces you to start dancing. Although each track is unique, nothing feels out of place, a testament to the band’s ingenious songwriting.
Thematically, Club Sofa cleverly combines a sharp sense of humour with a genuine angst. Songs like “I Moved to Vancouver and All I Got Was This Stupid Nicotine Addiction” and “You vs. My Self-Esteem,” despite their considerable tonal differences, are not at odds with each other, but actually quite complementary due to their blunt exploration of anxiety. “You vs. My Self-Esteem,” for example, opens with “There’s a lot of things I shouldn’t have said / Most of the time it goes better in my head,” a sentiment that most listeners will find pretty relatable.
club sofa explores anxiety, love and heartache with an empathetic frustration and a clever wit, backed by their inventive interpretation of dream pop—a remarkable balance to perfect on their debut.