The Chain Gang of 1974 - Daydream Forever
Record Label: Warner Bros.
Release Date: Feb 4, 2014
In the ever-evolving machination of recorded music, a select few artists are proving that sometimes machines and computers can make cohesive and beautiful harmony. Kamtin Mohanger, who performs under the name The Chain Gang of 1974 is one such artist. On his latest album Daydream Forever he keeps his brooding, nocturnal rhythms and partners that with a healthy dollop of 80s synth-driven melody. There’s ample amounts of Duran Duran, The Blue Nile and Depeche Mode in each of the eleven songs on Daydream Forever, notably the swirling “You” and the hulking single “Sleepwalking.”
Mohanger is an unconventional vocalist but knows when to tuck in his verses as evidenced on the throbbing and catchy “Lola Suzanne.” The album’s first attempt at restraint is the delicate and doe-eyed “Miko,” a tender valentine that builds and builds, yielding to a awl of sound in the song’s final 90 seconds. Once again, Mohanger never allows his vocals to take center stage, instead allowing the thumping cacophony of noise do most of the heavy lifting. That’s a concept that many bands should learn from: knowing your limitations can often be the key to first-rate artistry. Side A finishes with the spartan and celestial “Godless Girl,” which uses a faint piano to unravel a shimmering and ringing electro-pop song that vies for being one of the disc’s most memorable.
The pleading and pliant “Witch” meanders comfortably and allows Mohanger’s limited falsetto to implore a former lover to stop fussing with his psyche. In cursory listens the song has all the hallmarks of filler but on repeated listens actually wears itself well and is well worth revisiting. The gorgeous cut “Mouth” draws its strength from the 60-second instrumental piece “Moksha” a noisy and vibrant effort that hums with electricity. As for “Mouth” there’s probably not a stronger song on the entire disc. Once again using his falsetto, this time to near-perfection, the song paints a haunting and illustrative portrait of a couple nearing their demise. Set against a backdrop of ringing synths, the song once again draws from the Duran Duran playbook and finds Mohanger firing on all cylinders.
Penultimate cut “Death Metal Punk” boasts one of Mohanger’s better vocal efforts and marries that with a throbbing beat and concussive chorus. While it can be argued the song should have opened the disc, its placement here still works and furthers the album’s narrative of communicative breakdowns. With its soaring chorus “Why do people like you think everything is alright?” the song practically lends itself to teenage rebellion and wanderlust. Daydream Forever closes with “Plum” a pensive cut that lingers long after its over and finds Mohanger at the absolute top of his game.
Not every electronic-based project is going to leave you dazzled, but the eleven songs of Daydream Forever do exactly that. Having already won over critics and fans alike with 2011’s Wayward Fire, Mohanger has once again proved that he has a knack for writing top flight electro-rock. Just don’t take this album lightly, it’s not meant for that kind of attention.