The Juan Maclean - In A Dream - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

The Juan Maclean - In A Dream

by Rich Morris Rating:7 Release Date:2014-09-22

John MacLean and co’s latest plays out as a tribute to electronic music loves and influences. Embracing multiple genres, but mainly sticking to a late-70s/early-80s template, it comports itself in a classier manner than most albums of this type, although it also falls into some of the common traps.

It begins with an odyssey into deep cosmic disco. If you’re in any doubt about what the first track is all about, the title alone should tip you off – ‘A Place Called Space’. MacLean spikes his Moroder beat with unabashedly cheesy guitar histrionics and enough little tics and glitches to remind you this isn’t actually 1979. Former LCD Soundsystemer Nancy Whang is on hand once more, her trademark deadpan vocals adding a mirror-shade sheen to proceedings.

‘Here I Am’ is effortlessly cool and funky early house, thus fitting perfectly with the pop zeitgeist of 2014, of course. “Talk me out of love,” sing-speaks Whang, sounding like she has the emotional depth of a vending machine. The following ‘Love Stops Here’ has a strong LCD Soundsystem feel to it, which is no bad thing, it’s beautiful fluttering synths and 80s electro-pop feel making it a close cousin of ‘Someone Great’. The New Order guitar-line at the end is a paricular treat. 

‘You Were a Runaway’ swipes the vocal melody from Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Little Lies’ and pairs it with possibly the album’s least interesting moment. Thankfully, ‘Running Back to You’ and ‘I’ve Waited for So Long’ return to disco dreamscape homage, all bum-quaking funk and exciting encounters glimpsed through dry ice.  

Unfortunately, while the grooves stay strong, the melodies start to sag in the second half of the album. ‘Charlotte’, for example, sounds more like the kind of mildly annoying curio one might find on the second disc of a Disco Discharge compilation than a real storming dancefloor classic.

The final track, ‘The Sun Will Never Set on Our Love’, is a 10-minute epic and the most up-to-date sounding thing here. The production is excellent, but you find yourself waiting for something, some big, dramatic, punch-the-air-and-sniff-the-poppers moment to come along and… well… it’s doesn’t.

This, along with the slight facelessness which is a common feature of music by dance producers, means you might find your interest in In a Dream waning over the course of a single listen. In isolation, though, every track here has something to recommend it: an irrepressible beat, some gorgeous synth sounds, an unexpected flourish. But does it add up to a satisfying album? Not quite. 

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