Stop Screaming, Start Dreaming – surely a slogan befitting these recessionary times? While not exactly ‘Clash City Rockers’ in the protest stakes, debut release from Dubliners the Dirty 9s has enough pop-rock angst to shout about at least. Produced by Greg Haver of Manics/Super Furry Animals fame, Stop Screaming, Start Dreaming is a snappy microcosm of everything we have heard from this band onstage to date, albeit with a noticeably more polished veneer.
While there’s no sign of the band’s Youtube hit El Sexo Infermo, (their Spanish take on ‘Sex On Fire’), on the tracklisting, there is more than enough of the band’s trademark punchy vibrancy throughout to make up for it.
For the most part, the lyrics focus shamelessly on youthful excesses, the lovelorn, general emptiness and all that goes in-between. One of the high points, ‘Corridors’, dissects the gloomy perils of modern existence for many and, despite the theme of emptiness, it subtly worms its way into your consciousness without much effort. At the same time the utterly infectious -Weeknight Lovers’ shows a band beaming with newfound confidence. Not exactly the most original of sounds, the Dirty 9s are a standard drums, bass, guitars and vox outfit but with pop-rock gems like ‘Corridors’ andwith ‘Weeknight Lovers’, they show they are more than capable of penning a memorable pop number.
The songs all easily blend together to create a cohesive debut – ‘Something Better’ maintains the pace, running with the themes of longing and melancholia despite being wrapped up in a deceitfully upbeat package. Things continue much in the same vein with ‘Car Crash’, a number which is carried by a steady drum beat and, as the most angst-ridden tune here, shows that the band can do edginess when required.
‘Echoes’ is in many ways a sister track to the earlier ‘Angels In The Shadows’ – both are nostalgic and quietly make their mark after multiple listens. ‘Disgrace’ is not as instantly accessible as the preceding tracks – appearing soft and poppy yet boasting a harder core, it mixes the edge of crashing guitars with sheer pop sensibilities.
In many ways the album hinges on the strength of ‘Lucy Opus’, a number which has easily imprinted itself on the minds of this band’s growing faithful. Arguably the best song the band have composed to date, ‘Lucy Opus’ is an impressive snapshot of the Dirty 9s potential and the direction they hopefully continue moving in.
Stop Screaming, Start Dreaming is a record of youthful endeavour and indiscretions. It is unlikely to change the face of music as we know it but that was never the intention. The Dirty 9s more than make up for lapses in the imagination stakes by their ballsy enthusiasm and effortless charm, resulting in a debut album with bags of promise.