MFlow – Dream Pop

A beginner's guide...

The first wave of dream pop was borne from the mid-eighties shoegaze scene and has not strayed far from its original sound.

Slow, haunting melodies and dreamy instrumentation are still prominent characteristics, but some modern exponents of the genre like Sigur Ros, Air, M83, High Places and Mum, channel that ambient electronica vibe. If you don’t know your lowcore from your ethereal pop then do not fear: here are five quite different bands who all fit underneath that expansive dream pop umbrella…

Cocteau Twins – ‘Dials’
The Cocteau Twins have been heralded as the founding fathers of dream pop. Not content with making a string of critically acclaimed records, band members Guthrie and Raymonde have continued their services to the genre with their very own record label, Bella Union. ‘Dials’ shows the Scots at their dreamiest: all wily vocals and ethereal soundscapes. Just don’t even bother trying to decipher Elizabeth Fraser’s inaudible lyrics though: part of the band’s charm is their lyrical mystery…

Beach House – ‘Gila’
Modern day Dream Pop duo Beach House inhabit some of the genre’s enduring characteristics, most notably the Nico-esque vocals and delicately textured instrumentation. Although the latest Beach House record has moved away from the lo-fidelity production territory of the band’s first two offerings, their signature otherworldly style still remains. ‘Gila’ is taken from the Baltimore band’s second album, ‘Devotion’ and ensnares the listener with its slow, beguiling harmonies, orgasmic vocals and twinkling keys.

Slowdive – ‘Machine Gun’
Along with 4AD and Slumberland, Creation Records was one of dream pop’s biggest advocates. At the shoegaze end of the dream pop spectrum, Slowdive were forerunners of the ‘Scene That Celebrates Itself,’ along with Creation label mates My Bloody Valentine. Breathy, bittersweet male-female vocals are layered over gushing, velvety guitars and flecked with more abstract sounds. ‘Machine Gun’ is dazzlingly beautiful.

Slowdive – Machine Gun (Love)

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My Bloody Valentine – ‘I Only Said’
My Bloody Valentine were in the original mid-eighties shoegaze clan. With an autonomy on feedback, MBV took noise away from harsher sounding grunge bands and placed it in a pop context. ‘When You Sleep’ is arguably one of MBV’s more melodic tracks, but twisted guitar distortions are still high on the agenda.

My Bloody Valentine – I Only Said

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Broadcast – ‘Hammer Without a Master’
One of Birmingham’s greatest musical achievements, Broadcast swap synths for guitars and make ambient pop with an electronic edge. This twisted instrumental number may be one of the band’s faster paced tracks and its creepy Hammer Horror-like is perhaps more nightmarish than dreamy, but Broadcast show a different side to the genre and their 2005 album ‘Tender Buttons’ perfectly demonstrates this.

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