Much like the subconscious mind, the world of dream pop is a multidimensional place. An atmospheric rush of instrumentals offers an escape from reality as introspective lyrics present an opportunity for self-reflection. The genre’s prominence in the 1980s also conjures nostalgia for legendary bands like Cocteau Twins and The Sundays. While preserving this time capsule of sound, Canadian up-and-comers Tallies enter the dream pop realm with wide eyes on their debut album.
The Toronto quartet’s self-titled debut fires up with the sonic fuzz and swirling guitar riffs of “Trouble.” Vocalist-guitarist Sarah Cogan channels The Go-Go’s through her bright timbre. Against the instrumental flushes from guitarist Dylan Franklin, bassist Stephen Pitman and drummer Cian O’Neill, she sparks this coming-of-age fondness fit for a John Hughes film.
With jangly sonics taking the lead, the album glides to its halfway point. “Mother” youthfully recounts childhood lessons, while the dismal fluidity of “Midnight” reminisces the idyll of dusk and summer. “Have You” brings upbeat vibes back as Cogan yearns to bring up things left unsaid in a past relationship.
As the ethereal melodies keep flowing, the group takes care to add touches of grain to its sonic texture. The contemplative and colorful “Not So Proud” demonstrates these nuances with its drums and punchy bass line especially shining through. Divergent touches bring Tallies to perhaps their most edgy territory on “Trains and Snow.” The cut jets into a gauzy wall of sound that looms over the first few verses. The chorus condenses the instrumentals, as sounds collide like flashes of lightning. Combining glimmer and grit over imagery of going home for the winter, this track becomes the perfect centerpiece for the album.
While the first half of the album soaks up the sunniest sounds, the latter leans into rhythmic diversity. “Eden” erupts with drum, bass and guitar hits that simmer into whimsical flutters, as Cogan evocatively compares her surroundings to the biblical Garden of Eden. Blurring the lines between the physical and mental, the track’s lush arrangement allows listeners to immerse themselves in their own beautiful place. “Beat the Heart” and “Giving Up” dive into heavier grooves, churning out somber riffs a la The Smiths through a vibrant tone unique to Tallies.
The album rips through high tides for its last two songs. Recalling pure memories of skipping stones, “Rocks” reflects old, simpler times via a vivid melody that’s as shimmery as the crystal blue waters. Finally, “Easy Enough” ends on a rhapsodic note as the vocals repeat, “It’s not easy enough to give you up,” brazenly holding onto something—or someone—regarded with passion.
The haze of dream pop can become a maze, losing its substance in the crevices of every sonic layer. It is, after all, meant to emulate the frothiness of daydreams. However, Tallies find a balance of their soundscapes with memorable songwriting chops. Their combination of whimsical instrumentation, cosmic ambience and vibrant vocals stay true to the genre’s core, but their debut full-length maintains suitably lucid artistry.