“Somnambulist EP” C27
(Tenderly Surrender)

If you’ve read me before, and I know you have, you know I have a tendency to go off on a tangent or something before I get to the point of actually reviewing whatever release it is I happen to be writing about that day. I’m here to tell you, those days are past. I’m a new man, one who narrows the focus, cuts to the chase, and tells you exactly what you want to hear before I even get to the second paragraph. I know your time is precious – you have a lot on your mind (hey, we all do), and the last thing I want you to do is get bogged down in some sort of personal exercise on my part! Wouldn’t that be super annoying? It would, wouldn’t it!

… Oh crap.

Uh, I did it again. Let’s reboot.

This tape = dream pop.

There, see? I can change. Brevity suits me. And to be slightly more long-winded than that, although not very long-winded at all in the end, I have to say that I’m really enjoying Somnambulist, an EP by The Diane Plains released in a very limited quantity on Tenderly Surrender at the end of July. {Name redacted} of the good ol’ U of K (that’s the UK) records as The Diane Plains, which she did mostly by herself from 2011 to 2013, with the exception of Ewen (one name, like Madonna) on drums. It was “recorded and mixed in various bedrooms, garages, bathrooms and mountains in the UK and India,” so you know this was an absolute labor of love.

It shows. This is really good dream pop, and although I’m not sure there’s such a thing as really bad dream pop, the relevance of its existence is beside the point. (I imagine that some dream pop is bad, but I honestly don’t know. Somebody please give me an example of the bad. I do want to reiterate that The Diane Plains is most squarely in the “good” quadrant of whatever dream pop diagram you’re drawing, even if every other quadrant is minuscule by comparison. By that I mean, holy sweet Moses, I love this tape, this little ol’ EP from Ms. {Name redacted} of the UK. I say this now to avoid shoving my head further into this rabbit hole that will most certainly turn out to be my own behind.)

The guitar is gauzy, the bass fuzzy, the synths and organs fully texturized. Ewen’s solid behind the kit, and that’s good, because you don’t want someone too flashy back there. The vibe is squarely Cocteau Twins, Lush, Slowdive. A modern comparison could be Sea Oleena. This is music for being young in the UK, enjoying newfound freedom but realizing that you live in a gloomy place. (I LOVE the UK, btw.) You tool around on your scooter, etc., popping into pubs now and then. I know what they do – I’ve seen God Help the Girl. (Loved it.) Somnambulist predates God Help the Girl. Stuart Murdoch has probably learned a thing or two from {Name redacted} Well, if he hasn’t, he’d pick up this tape right away if he was smart.

--Ryan Masteller