Jam City

Dream a Garden

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Dream a Garden Review

by Andy Kellman

In October 2014, Jack Latham teased the March 2015 release of his second Jam City album with "Unhappy." The song marked an abrupt shift in his sound. Gone were the metallic, stuttering beats and glistening melodies epitomized in Classical Curves tracks "Her" and "How to Relate to the Body." Latham sang over an irregular trudge of a beat, a blunted bassline, gentle noise squalls, and spangle-flicks of guitar, all deliberately blurred by reverb, his voice partially buried in the mix. The singular combination of vexation and optimism, conveyed in emotive lines like "Men are gonna regret growing up in total war/You can prove it in your music, the will to disconnect," was especially disarming coming from someone who had previously concealed his singing and songwriting ability. The song is perfectly representative and a highlight of Dream a Garden, a concise statement that is similarly designed to move the soul more than the hips. Though his sweetly melodic, boyish vocals are moderately obscured, it's easy to sense Latham's repulsion for capitalism and its effects. Latham's voice dips and dives through the biting drums and almost piercing guitar in "Today," offhandedly resigned with "I guess it's back to porn and Adderall, next to no pay." The producer is just as effective at expressing the dread without words. Within only a minute, "Black Friday" transforms from a "proper" song into a downcast instrumental of rust-caked ambience, a potential backdrop for a stroll through a decaying shopping mall that involves a break to watch dead plants swayed by an acrid draft. This is a daring album, not simply because a fair portion of Latham's listeners expect him to stick to dance music. Here, he makes his own form of dream pop, one that is inspired by stark realities yet filled with hope for a brighter future.

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