Whimsical folk group Niagara Moon, led by Thomas Erwin, release their brand-new album, Good Dreams, which centres on the theme of mind over matter. Encompassing a dozen tracks, Good Dreams conjures up suggestions of Pet Sounds or The Soft Bulletin, amalgamating classical textures with symphonic pop.
Good Dreams is the outcome of Thomas Erwin’s insomnia in the midst of quarantine, brought on by feeling of uncertainty and immersive isolation. To find sleep, Erwin did what he did as a child, imagining big, inflated letters spelling out the words ‘Good Dreams.’
The notion of mind over matter appears often over the course of the album’s 12 songs. After a few years struggling to find their sound with a more conventional arrangement, Niagara Moon embraced the electronic orchestra living inside their Mac Mini. As such, Good Dreams became a baroque technicolour storybook of sound and a welcome escape from the more challenging moments of the last couple of years.
The album begins with “Bad Vibes,” a song about fear and misinformation. It opens on a sparkling piano topped by bright orchestral colours as Erwin’s velvety voice imbues the lyrics with tasty tones. Vaguely reminiscent of the pioneering music of later Beatles’ songs, the harmonics ebb and rise on bright, buoyant hues.
“Who Needs Who” travels on delicious tip-toeing leitmotifs, full of lively, glistening sounds. Here, Erwin’s vocals give the lyrics cheerful timbres, as if taking a carefree jaunt through a park on a sunny day.
The bright and breezy feel of “Surprise For You” provides listeners with light airiness, rife with percolating accents and silky-smooth vocals. “Hindsight,” a song about the loss of youth and freedom, features darker yet still lustrous harmonics rippling with luminous skewering strings.
Opening on emerging blossoming tones, “Sink Or Swim” flows into a graceful melody featuring a soft glimmering piano topped by platinum accents and cashmere strings. The final track, “Boxed In,” reflects the menacing feeling engendered by the limitations and claustrophobia of the pandemic. A lingering, gloomy mood pervades the harmonics, giving the song a latent Nightmare Before Christmas sensation.
Simultaneously sumptuous and innovative, Good Dreams delivers a unique and beguiling listening experience.