Four Stars

Dream Police, the electro-experimental alter ego of gritty punk Brooklyn rockers The Men, mark a shift back to the sound of their previous albums with Hypnotized. Members Nick Chiericozzi and Mark Perro started the project in 2010, and the album is the fruit of extensive jamming and the gradual release of cassette singles. Most notable is the addition of a drum machine to many of the songs, which has dramatically shaped the production of the album. Gone are the uncertain, hazy distortions with no clear build up, replaced by a solid rhythm acting as the backbone throughout the dimensions of experimental genre which cross on this record.

‘Hypnotized’, the album’s titular opening track, kicks off with its wavering vibrato flanger-intensified guitar effects, paving the way for the bass-backed vocals whispering, “Oh little sister what have you done…” Interest in the track is retained thanks to the constantly changing riffs; the fade out and built up of each phrase, “Grab a hold of my steering wheel / Let’s go for a ride” sums up the essence of liberation which it breathes.

‘My Mama’s Dead’, with its distorted screaming lyrics, is almost the perfect follow-on from this. It is contrasting in melody, but the steady synth is a heartbeat in a song about endless death.

While blues and country elements are ever-present, they take the lead in ‘Iris’, a reflective ballad with a vocal arrangement of both high and low growling extremes. ‘John’ is similarly distinctive with its gritty blues sound and Wurlitzer organ. ‘Pouring Rain’, the up-tempo game changer, is layered with synths, although the vocals are compromised. It’s still a not a track which Alan Vega or David Lynch would be ashamed of having to their name.

‘All We Are’, with its psychedelic overtones, is shorter and sweeter than the rest. ‘Let it Be’ is a purely instrumental interlude, driven on by its faster synthesized drumbeat and rising and falling guitar riffs.

‘Sandy’ ends the album on a more sombre note, brought out by interplay between the al- ternating male and female voices in the chorus — “church bells are ringing / hanging branch bending / and tonight I don’t feel like singing”. In a recent interview, Chiericozzi explains that “The song originally had drums and electric guitar, but… we made an acoustic demo that had something haunting in it.”

With the recent break up of The Virgins, and the state of The Strokes uncertain, it seems that the New York Scene has been missing something. This album’s combination of far-reaching nostalgic influences, inventive musicality and lyrical creativity is perhaps exactly what it needs.