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 411mania » Music » Album Reviews

The Chain Gang of 1974 - Daydream Forever Review
Posted by Daniel Wilcox on 02.26.2014

My 2014 Reviews:
Ed Harcourt - Time of Dust EP [8.0]
Warpaint - Warpaint [9.0]
Against Me! - Transgender Dysphoria Blues [7.0]
Sophie Ellis-Bextor - Wanderlust [9.0]
Mogwai - Raves Tapes [4.0]
Young the Giant - Mind Over Matter [6.0]
You Me At Six - Cavalier Youth [5.5]
Gaslight Anthem - The B-Sides [6.5]
Of Mice and Men - Restoring Force [8.0]
Within Temptation - Hyrda [8.5]
Bombay Bicycle Club - So Long, See You Tomorrow [8.0]
The Rifles - None the Wiser [5.0]
Skindred - Kill the Power [7.0]
Katy B - Little Red [9.0]
The Family Rain - Under the Volcano [7.0]
Clare Maguire - Clare Maguire EP [7.0]
Behemoth - The Satanist [7.0]
Wild Beasts - Present Tense [10.0]
Beck - Morning Phase [9.5]
Issues - Issues [7.0]
Fanfarlo - Let's Get Extinct [4.0]
The Chain Gang of 1974 - Daydream Forever [3.5]

The Chain Gang of 1974Daydream Forever

Track listing:
1. Ordinary Fools
2. You
3. Sleepwalking
4. Lola Suzanne
5. Miko
6. Godless Girl
7. Witch
8. Moksha
9. Mouth
10. Death Metal Punk
11. Plum
Running time: 38:37

The Chain Gang of 1974 is the project of DJ and multi-instrumentalist Kamtin Mohager. Mohager specialises in electronic and indie pop music and is actually fairly prolific at it - Daydream Forever is album number four in as many years, an impressive feat considering he spent a considerable amount of that time as the touring bassist of 3OH!3, though I advise you not to hold that against him. Many of you may actually already be familiar with some of his work – many of his songs have been featured in various FIFA games, but most notably his track “Sleepwalking” was featured on the trailer for Grand Theft Auto V. The album does, however, mark Mohager's major label debut, as he signed to Warner Bros. Records recently.

The album opens with the attention-grabbing “Ordinary Fools.” It immediately commands your undivided attention despite being a slow-burner of a track, featuring a deep bass and a thumping rhythm that's almost orgasmic. By the time Mohager is crooning “leave your records on in the chorus,” we are well and truly lost in the moment. The opening track serves as an invitation of sorts, and we're already intrigued as to whats to come. Unfortunately the rest of the record fails to live up to its opener. Mohager struggles elsewhere to find the balance between credible indie music and accessible pop music. It's a line that Haim and Chvrches straddled so brilliantly in 2013, and one that Mohager hopes to stay the right side of. But on the corny “You,” and the piercing “Mouth,” he falls far short. These tracks are memorable because they're irritating, making them the worst offenders, but others are instantly forgettable.

“Sleepwalking,” as mentioned, was featured heavily in the promotion for the biggest-selling game of all time, so it's no surprise that it's a familiar number and maybe that's what makes it stand out. It actually sounds like it was put together in a daze, one where Mohager actually allowed himself to daydream and come up with something completely organic – it sounds a little like the Naked and Famous, but it's honest and lyrically it's intriguing. But this and the opener are highlights of an otherwise mediocre effort. “Miko” starts off promisingly with handclaps and a rapid, pulsing beat, and the vocals are really smooth, but it soon descends into something of an indie pop mess, directionless and devoid of any real meaning. It does have a catchy chorus that lasts all of around eight seconds, and it's one you'll be familiar with if you have EA's latest FIFA instalment.

I think part of the problem with the record is a lack of clear direction. Mohager is a talented individual, that has been proved in the last couple of years. But it almost feels as if he has so many ideas that he has struggled to get them all down in one cohesive narrative. Aptly titled Daydream Forever, the record feels almost as if musical vomit just appeared on a disc. There's so little substance in many of the tracks here, and for a record that should be focusing on attention grabbing hooks and melodies, these are few and far between. There are promising moments, unquestionably, and these are mostly the tracks that have been used in the album's promotion. Too many times tracks have sudden changes of tempo that don't appear to serve any sort of purpose. Lyrically everything's a bit drab and while there's the odd moment of ingenuity here and there, you feel as though Mohager has attempted to keep it simple almost as if he's set out to appease his new bosses at Warner.

The Chain Gang of 1974 - “Sleepwalking”

The 411: The Chain Gang of 1974's major label debut, Daydream Forever is an album of unlimited potential that is never realised. Lots of songs start promisingly and then trail off, much like the record itself, which starts with the tantalizing “Ordinary Fools,” the only track that really succeeds in grabbing the listener's attention and maintaining it for the duration of the song. Elsewhere you have one or two interesting album tracks with cute chorus, but they're neither catchy enough to be memorable nor original enough to be artistically credible. Anyone who's already familiar with Mohager's work will know that he is capable of better than this, and that this album should have been so much more. Possibly he spent too much time on the road with 3OH!3.
Final Score:  3.5   [ Bad ]  legend


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