Weird Dreams

Luxury Alone

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During the four years between Weird Dreams' debut album Choreography and Luxury Alone, Doran Edwards experienced profound changes: The band became a solo project; he moved to Paris; and the uncertainty in his life led to battles with depression and anxiety. Throughout it all, he never stopped writing songs, and he found inspiration -- as well as calm -- in the work of writers such as Robert Ashley and musicians including Ryuichi Sakamoto, French electronic composer Eliane Radigue, and Broadcast. While Luxury Alone's synth-pop mantras are a radical transformation from the jangly Choreography, they also sound surprisingly natural. It's as if Doran's music grew into the Weird Dreams moniker, allowing him to express his fantasies and visions in therapeutic ways. The lingering bits of psychedelia on Luxury Alone emphasize the heightened state of mind on these songs, with the trippy keyboards and basslines on "Binary" and "Heaven's Hounds" evoking Nick Nicely's psychedelic synth-pop experiments in the '80s. All of Edwards' choices on the album have symbolic weight, whether it's the way his deadpan vocals on "Chalk Scrawls" poignantly convey his experiences with depersonalization or how the layers of harmonies reflect different selves on "Mirror." His use of watery atmospheres and imagery is inspired, with ambient instrumentals such as "Neon Erotic" and the seven-minute "Fantasy Building" emphasizing that Luxury Alone began as a dream world Edwards built to renew himself. However, Weird Dreams still writes masterful pop songs. Chief among them is "The Ladder," which contrasts restless lyrics like "Let me hear your tears spiral out of control/I miss my friends" with one of the album's prettiest melodies and arrangements. Here and on "Calm," it feels like Edwards is talking himself into a state of serenity and bringing listeners along with him; elsewhere, "Days'" aching seclusion and "Digital Water"'s urgency hint that the need for retreat and the need for change are each other's flipsides. Though the album takes its time to unfold, it's worth it; Luxury Alone is a rare blend of vulnerability and beauty that puts Weird Dreams on a new level.

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