Let’s get down to it. Walking on A Dream is the singularly most frustrating album State has heard in months. The Aussie collaboration between Pnau’s Nick Littlemore and Luke Steele of The Sleepy Jackson promises much but with each passing minute makes the wrong moves; like watching a sleepwalker walk repeatedly into a wall in the dark. It’s horribly incoherent, jarringly switching from one unrelated style to another, favours high-art over substance and when you do think the groove has become stuck on something great, it abruptly changes course once again, prompting existential quizzical expressions and boiling anger.
Of course, the warning signs were there already; the outlandish space-age indulgent cover art, Steele’s pretentious leanings (he’s no stranger to OTT cover art either) in his previous band. Sadly, the hollow fantasist side of this musical marriage has won out.
It starts out brilliantly, with the driving funk of ‘Standing On The Shore’ showcasing the album’s core subtle electro-pop leanings. Singles ‘Walking On A Dream’ and ‘We Are The People’ are great pop songs with stick-in-the-brain falsetto choruses, while ‘Half Mast’ flaunts some genuine ’80s synth sounds. The wheels start to come off with track five, ‘Delta Bay’ with its hideously cartoon vocoder voice. The door is ajar already yet after listening to the next two tracks ‘Country’, a Balearic sunshine instrumental, and ‘The World’ with its wailing cat outro, the horse bolts from the stable.
Focus is temporarily restored with the brilliant future funk of ‘Swordfish Hotkiss Night’ but ultimately pomp and ceremony win out as the last song features a synth that was last heard soundtracking really, really bad sci-fi movies of the ’80s. Walking On A Dream is a half cooked, half brilliant album that could have been so much more.