Opener “Always Looking” sets a deceptively rough and tumble, tough exterior with vocals shouts that point straight to The Runaways. “Bedroom Eyes” takes a completely different turn into the midtempo 70s pop that’s the main motif of Only In Dreams, employed several times over later on (“Caught In One”; “Heartbeat”; “Teardrops On My PIllow”) with almost identical drumbeats. So many great pop songs do what they have to do in under three minutes, and this one starts strong but goes on for too long past the sweet spot.
The album hits a high point two songs later with “In My Head,” a summery anthem ostensibly about lead singer Dee Dee’s indie rock boyfriend, Brandon Welchez of Crocodiles. Think Chrissy Hynde meets “All My Loving” meets any Best Coast song, minus the grit and fuzz.
“Coming Down” is a slow burn that channels Hope Sandoval but doesn’t stay interesting for more than one or two of its entire six 1/2 minutes.
“Wasted Away,” the album’s second high point, is a hard-charging three 1/2 minutes of big lead guitar rock with driving drums that recalls “Always Looking,” but without the tough girl bravado and more of a real sense of darkness (both musically and thematically) and the helplessness you feel when you’re losing someone important.
Closer “Hold Your Hand” wraps it all up and once again drives home the themes of death and loss — unsurprisingly, as Dee Dee’s mother passed away from cancer in 2010, and many of the songs deal with lonely nights missing a lover or being haunted by memories of both the living and the dead.
It’s easy to see what the band was attempting with these ten songs, but while there are definite standout moments the impact is marred by too much of the same idea throughout.