I certainly had very high hopes for Dreams Come True, Chris Taylor’s first album under the CANT moniker. And who wouldn’t? As one of the principal sound-sculptors behind Grizzly Bear’s romantic art-pop, Taylor has consistently showcased a knack for wrangling out alien hooks and left-field beauty from ordinary tools—a dry, distant electric guitar here, a withered old piano there, a bouquet of choir-boy harmonies just about everywhere. Working with Twin Shadow’s George Lewis Jr. on production is a natural move (Taylor, as you may know, co-produced Forget, the wonderful Twin Shadow album from last year), and the inverse of that album seems like a novel concept: Taylor cross-breeding Grizzly’s rustic, flowery epics with Lewis Jr.’s chilly, rhythmic muscle.
So why doesn’t Dreams Come True work? On surface level, it seems pleasant enough, and opener “Too Late, Too Far” is more than convincing—there’s a definite Twin Shadow vibe: stuttering rhythms, chopped-up ambient samples, rusty bass, neon synths. As the electronics build and wiggle, it feels like you’re headed somewhere pretty epic. But it never quite happens, peaking about 30 seconds in with Taylor’s seductive (and all-too-brief) verse melody. “Believe,” with its buzzsaw guitars, panning synth waves, and gooey hi-hat, is a whole buncha texture and barely any song, even if it’s pretty lovely whirring by.
Nice touches abound: itchy little bass riffs, engulfing beats and textures, admirable musicianship—but none of the songs are memorable for anything else. It’s an palette of attractive colors in search of a painting. Part of the problem is that vocally, Taylor rarely sounds all that engaged, his sweet-natured tenor hovering like a ghost in these tracks’ crevices. You can’t write off their intentions one bit—Dreams Come True is nothing if not well-produced and lovingly assembled. Problem is: there ain’t no soul.