Dreamdate

Patience

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Dreamdate's brand of no-frills pop music doesn't sound all that unusual on first glance, but after a few spins, their second album, Patience, reveals quite a distinct personality. Running through a dozen lean but catchy tunes in just under 30 minutes, Patience doesn't play willfully cute enough to be twee, even if guitarist/vocalist Yea-Ming Chen and bassist/vocalist Anna Hillburg often have boys on their mind and briefly travel beneath the sea for an underwater adventure on a cover of Cub's "Go Fish." Dreamdate's songs are straightforward and energetic, but their lack of enthusiasm for distortion and the absence of snark take this a long way from what punk rock has come to be in the 21st century. The sweetness of the close harmonies that dominate the tunes often plays against the grown-up tone of the lyrics, which are honest about twenty-something relationships without quite edging into cynicism. And though these songs have melodies that plenty of bands would dream of writing, the Spartan simplicity of the arrangements and production serves to distance this music from contemporary pop; there's practically nothing on this album that doesn't need to be there to support the weight. There are moments where Chen and Hillburg's near-unison vocals and evident sincerity make Patience sound like a 21st century update of Patience & Prudence (hence the title?), but they're more than good enough to get past this not-entirely flattering comparison, and like a less walloping version of the Spinanes, they use their minimalism to bring warmth and heart to their music, and these songs feel all the more joyously human for their lack of excess artifice. Plenty of bands have embraced the notion of "less is more," but Dreamdate actually prove that idea still has some new life in it, and the result is great, intelligent pop that's fully streamlined.

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