Published Jun 03, 2020Carey Mercer, the mastermind behind Frog Eyes and Blackout Beach and one-third of art-rock supergroup Swan Lake — is known for pushing sonic and creative boundaries, and 5 Dreams, the debut album from his latest project, Soft Plastics, is no exception. Made up of Mercer (vocalist and guitarist) and former Frog Eyes bandmates Mel Campbell (drummer) and Shyla Seller (keyboard and synths), 5 Dreams does not fit neatly into a particular genre, seamlessly infusing a range of different sounds from folk, post-punk, hip-hop and art rock.
Influenced by a vivid dream Mercer had one night, opening track "St. Tosh the Actor" is an epic and ambitious opener, weaving a surreal tale about its namesake character who captivates a city from his stage. "Here's Where the Sun Was," demonstrates Mercer's unique and animated vocals while displaying his remarkable vocal range — it is an artistic testament to the singer beating throat cancer several years ago.
While mostly dreamy and pensive, the album's mood eventually brightens with "The Party's Still On" and continues this temperament until slowing things back down with the pulsating noir tale of "I Pay No Heed to the Signs." The album maintains momentum, slowly and surely drawing you up to the edge on the mellifluous "The Angels" before suddenly pushes you off the proverbial edge with jovial and jaunry closing track "Wyld Thing."
While these songs can stoically stand on the their own, collectively, 5 Dreams could be the soundtrack to a moody, Shakespearean sci-fi opera with Ziggy Stardust as the protagonist (Mercer's voice can certainly be Bowie-esque at times). Instead of collapsing under any pressures with his new band, Mercer enthusiastically pushes back with this album, shrugging off any doubt that he is done reinventing himself as an artist. (Paper Bag)