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What is the purpose of “dream pop”? You might say, it’s not music for getting anything done to. It’s got no drive, no initiative, no ambition. Well, that is the exact point of the music, in a sense — it’s an escape into a realm that’s purely musical and not ambitious.
Pittsburgh’s Flower Crown chime in this year with their third full-length album, Heat, fresh off a lengthy COVID-related break and, from what it sounds, a wealth of studio practice time. These pop songs, which, on a superficial level, kind of resemble My Morning Jacket covering Oasis, all stand up as well structured and full of clean, aptly placed sounds, bespeaking a band taking its craft seriously and owning to a true dedication to the art of making a rock album.
Now, just to clarify: let’s not mistake this band with Broken Social Scene, the typical flagship “dream pop” act I usually think of when I hear the term. The lead guitar, via a guy who just goes by the name of “Mike,” sounds good and pristine, and, in general, the album is well mixed. But we’re also not talking about a lush instrumentation scheme full of synthesizers, oboes and organs, either. Flower Crown, for all their focus and sound musical disposition, still SOUND like a small-fry act, which, unfortunately for them, can be a disadvantage in indie pop, particularly in this day and age when saying anything edgy or controversial in lyrics is met with a Halloween-like horror.
But the songs do mosie along and unravel with enough clever chord change and pleasant, crooning vocals as to make this album an enjoyable listen, overall. My favorite cut is probably “All That You Ever Need,” on which vocalist Richie Colosimo  channels just a little more raspy urgency for missives like “I’d like to be a part of heart falling apart / At least for a while I’ll pick it up there”. Intriguingly, his manner of communicating this isn’t really serious or humorous but rather seems to possess this otherworldly, psychedelic quality, as if he is simply singing the words as musical lyrics, rather than communicating them verbally as something semantic. In this way, they make a nice decoration for the music, slow and patient to drape methodically over the song’s expedited mechanism of chord and structure.
“Islands in the Sky” seems like a reference to Weezer’s “Island in the Sun,” which would certainly jibe with Heat’s general trope of sunny tranquility and the impetus for a simple life. As is the case with many of these tracks, the vocals are so swathed in overdubs, effects and mixing obscurity to make them not even really understandable, which only seems to cement this band’s m.o. as “indie pop,” like nice background music for a cafe or bookstore, and not the kind of fanfare or dog and pony show that would cater to bulbous stardom within the current framework of our culture.