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[Review]: "Hold Your Dreams" Perfect View (2011)


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(Before I begin, just want to say it's good to be back. Been a way a really long time sorting out some stuff in my personal life and wrapping up some academic work. Hope to be around a lot more...)

 

For the Genre: ***-- (3/5)

Compared to the Era: ****- (4/5)

 

Summary: A solidly produced debut release slightly suffering from a split personality.

 

I’ll be honest. It took me a really long time to get around to this album. It took me too long to appreciate some of the things Perfect View was trying to do on this release. I did give the CD a fairly high rating due to the high quality mix, the excellent musicianship on the part of the band and that the songs were relatively catchy, but, make no mistake. This is not a record that is going to grab you by the lapels and force you to pay attention to it. Hold Your Dreams can be compelling at times, but not consistently so. The songs are sometimes ethereal and mysterious and then they can be obtuse and predictable with feigned emotion. Perhaps this is my bias shining through as I grew up in the 80s as an American in Los Angeles where bands like Motley Crue and RATT virtually invented the style; you can’t fake swag and I feel at times like some of the songs tried to do exactly that. If the the recordings and some of the songs hadn’t have been so good, the attitude coming off like a copy and not original in any way would have definitely given this a lower rating—especially on the “for the genre” category.

 

Let me start with the matter of intensity. “A Better Place” ends up being a great song but not what I would have kicked off the album with—a kind of Journey-esque drum line and piano pattern for the intro and seems to go nowhere from there; at least, until the chorus. The chorus is Really good, and felt really well thought out. “Closer” is decent song with that AOR sound we really love as classic rock fans and I have no real complaints about this one at all, except I would have sequenced this one later on the CD also. The album seems to really find its guts with the third track, “One More Time,” The keyboard arpeggios are a bit overdone in what was supposed to be the grand, climatic moment of the solo but I feel that was its one blemish; channels a bit of Fates Warning on this one with its exquisitely executed vocals, drum pattern and Iron Maiden/Queensryche-inspired guitar line, this is one of my two favorite songs on the album.

 

Another favorite is “Believe,” with its creative introduction and tasteful keyboard lead line, the vocals are genuine and compliment the song really well and the excellent solo section—all instruments combined—are the icing on the cake. “I Need Your Love” is my other favorite song on the album, with a nice fist pumping intro—majestic keyboard work with a great swelling start. My next favorite song cannot be found until the ninth song, the title track, “Hold Your Dreams,” which again channels more of the Fates Warning/Queensryche/Iron Maiden sound/feel that Perfect View really does pull off very well; it’s a very creative song, excellently sung and sufficiently heavy. The final track on the CD, “Where’s the Love” I would have sequenced earlier on the disc, perhaps right after “I Need Your Love”—it’s very heavy, well thought out, highly melodic and just plain sounds good. “A Reason to Fight” is a decent ballad, but I really would have made it the second to the last track on the album because it brings the energy level way, way down at its low speed tempo; it eventually becomes intense like Aerosmith’s “I Don’t Wanna Miss A Thing”—better in some ways, namely the solo—but still very slow.

 

Ironically, one of my least favorite tracks is “Run,” which does not suffer from a sluggish tempo at all but the obligatory motorcycle engine revving sound effect at the beginning is pretty uninspired and contrived in my opinion, and the rest of the song just kind of powers ahead with very little thought except for some guitar parts toward the end. The downhill slide continues on “Showtime,” which tries to do what “Hold Your Dreams” did with the very creative, thoughtful instrumental portions but then switches over to an interpreted form of the glam/sleaze thing from the late 1980s. Another track like that, only worse, is “Don’t Turn Away,” trying way too hard to grab that circa 1990 RATT cheesy “swing metal” feel. The chorus is pretty good and the really good guitar work in parts keeps this song from getting eliminated from my playlist when playing back the entire album, but it was not a good sign of things to come. Another song like this one was “Speed Demon,” my least favorite song on the CD to be completely certain.

 

This review may sound like I’ve heavily panned this release as barely worth purchasing but I cannot overemphasize the mix is beautiful and the musicianship is beautiful. This is a good sounding album to the ears, and was worth my money. I just felt like some tracks could have been left off the CD, or at a minimum, re-arranged, but this is what can happen with a self-produced album. There isn’t an industry expert hanging around saying, “hey maybe this song doesn’t need to be six and a half minutes long, eh?” That’s kind of the fun of indie rock, though. It’s a little experimental. It’s not always predictable, or at least, it shouldn’t be. But that’s why it’s a little disappointing when bands hold themselves back by being predictable. Paying homage to your heroes is admirable and one of the reasons why we all either make or love listening to Melodic Rock, and I’m definitely not one of those jerks that believe they need to “get out of the 80s sound” in order to be viable. Big drums and articulate guitars are a good thing. It’s just that we don’t have to settle for tired arrangements, contrived sound effects or fake sleaze. More songs like “Where’s the Love” and less songs like “Speed Demon” on their next album will guarantee a purchase from me.

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