Grizzly Bear multi-instrumentalist Chris Taylor is adept with finishing touches, whether it’s the swirls of electronics or digitally processed woodwinds he contributes to his main gig, or the cavernous sonic spaces he creates as producer for acts like The Morning Benders and Twin Shadow. Perhaps that’s why Dreams Come True, his solo debut as CANT, feels overworked and underdone. By pairing with Twin Shadow’s George Lewis Jr. (who also signed to Taylor’s Terrible Records label), Taylor aims for the same shoegaze soulfulness he warped into fascinating shapes on Lewis’ debut. But the reversal in their positions only illustrates how atmosphere is no substitute for memorable songwriting.
Taylor’s breathy falsetto is well-suited for the sort of drippy, R&B-inspired melodies that are so in vogue right now, but for all their soft-focus charms, sexless slow-jams like “Believe” and “The Edge” suffer from abstract, generic lyrics and a plodding repetitiveness. (And in the case of “The Edge,” a bass line so tortuously tweaked, it evokes a farting bullfrog.) The lead single “Answer” and the opener “Too Little Too Late” fare better: Both are built on loopy, wobbly drum grooves that speak to Taylor’s love of Arthur Russell, while the album hits its apex with “She Found A Way Out,” fusing Grizzly Bear’s baroque pop with a gorgeously soaring coda of epic synth-scapes. But beginning with its title track—a cacophony of atonal woodwind bleating and pitch-shifted guttural muttering—Dreams Come True throws in the towel, leaving the impression of a half-sketched idea that failed to materialize fully no matter how much it was fussed over. Fortunately, Taylor still has several awesome day jobs.