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Canyons – Keep Your Dreams

on November 15, 2011, 7:57am

Australians Ryan Grieve and Leo Thomsen, also known as production duo Canyons, have remixed everyone from Ladyhawke to The Juan MacLean, but they’re just now finally getting around to releasing a debut LP of original music. In order to accomplish their weirdo electronic vision, they’ve drafted members of Nite Jewel, The Embassy, Sniff ‘n the Tears, and Tame Impala. Keep Your Dreams attempts to pull off a nearly impossible feat: trying to somehow combine the shamanistic grandiosity of MGMT with the electro-pulse of !!!. The strange thing is that they come pretty close to achieving that on a few tracks.

The chuckling, soaring synth arcs of “Circadia” open the album on an epic note, a less terrifying, more ’80s version of something off of Fuck Buttons’ first disc. The wobbling synth, poly-rhythmic drumming, flopping bass, and skronking saxophone come together in a slinking, dance floor-aimed jam. In the right mood, this sort of huge, wacky set piece could be a lot of fun, but it rides right up to the edge of cheesy, a recurring problem throughout the album.

“My Rescue” might be the strongest track, its chugging bass and rattling drums melding with disco synths and bongos. “I wanna lose my mind in you,” the vocals croon right before a flashy guitar solo. On this track, the blend between revival and modernity is just right. On “See Blind Through” (featuring heavily effected vocals from Nite Jewel’s Ramona Gonzalez), the ’80s plinks and hums are all too familiar, something that’s been in nightclubs for nigh on 30 years.

The free-form, sample-y “The Bridge” may feel like an intermezzo; its chunky, distorted oddness is fresh, like a pop take on Black Dice, samples of howls and moans dropped into place amongst the laser beam stutters. This, then, unfortunately returns to the airy saxophone and droning house beat of “Blu Snakes”, a track without any catharsis or memorable moment. The fact that a few more structured, disco-leaning tracks fill out the album can’t entirely redeem the aimlessness that pervades so much of the disc, leaving Keep Your Dreams in muddled territory.

Essential Tracks: “My Rescue” and “The Bridge”