The crew populating the vast office spaces at the RMR Tower sometimes says the damnedest things. Like this promise we made a long time ago after the Howl review released. The statement was that we would be back shortly with this review that – today – finally gets a taste of our writing prowess.
So, here we are back with Mighty Oaks‘s sophomore full-length album Dreamers. And a long wait it was indeed.
But, you see, there’s a reason for everything.
The time the second record comes around is a turning point for any band. Either it kicks them up a couple of notches. Or they hit them black rocks just underneath that flat ocean they mistook for smooth sailing. It’s like some sort of a golden rule of contemporary music.
Howl kinda had this magic pull. A youthful energy boost that produced that lusty, folksy tune with a truly personal touch. Some vibe that just pulled you along until the record ended. And we loved every second of it, well almost.
Yet here, whenever we fired up Dreamers, it just did not make it very far. It looks like Universal finally got their steely hooks into the band’s mutual behinds and made them produce this thing. And whilst this kind of treatment was good for Folk outfits like Faun, here it turned sour pretty quickly.
Mighty Oaks kept some of their former self, though. And did not fall into this pool of syrupy rosiness that Train occupies since their record of that same year came out.
And – yeah – already the first track annoyed me. Mighty Oaks complain about those bad critics. Those that can’t be shut up, and have the gall to speak up and speak out. True, there’s a fair share of dumb haters out there, but what can you do. But All I Need contained so much whining on a pretty bland song structure, we always changed to the next track – and quickly.
What follows is that sanitized suite of tracks that kinda putters along until it peters out. Apart from some more whining, I truly found nothing to write home about. With the vibe firmly out the window and no new ideas coming in, Dreamers turned out to be something like highway music. A record you would slam into your CD reader in the car and cruise down them dusty roads into the blue yonder.
It’s not that Mighty Oaks did not display artistic prowess. All tracks get you a different style flavor. And often there’s this attempt to save the day through some progression. Or a trial to win a few brownie points on someone else’s territory. Like Look Inside that seems to emerge from Passenger‘s universe.
So, in other words, pretty much out the door is this Indie-Folk that the band apparently strives for. And in comes Dreamers with this offering that dangerously leans towards Pop Rock. In such a way that one reviewer called this Guitar Pop. That’s a bit harsh, admitted. But the description kinda talks to me. You see, there’s only so much I can explain when things seriously start to sound like Fleetwood Mac.
And whilst tracks like Raise a Glass gave me some hope that things could grow juicier, this got squished quickly by the likes of The Great Unknown. And even the carefully added strings did not save that one, by the way.
So, is Dreamers a bad record, then?
Well no, you will still find a pretty hefty dose of substance and sturdy musicianship in this stew of yours. And I am sure that many a fan will not find serious fault with this record.
But, you see, Mighty Oaks tried to please the gods of mainstream a bit too much this time. So much so that this record almost got sacrificed on its mighty altar. And that is a pity, as this band has much more talent in them than some sort of pleasurable background music. If you get my drift.