Five months after their August EP Dystopia: Lose Myself, Dreamcatcher has returned with the third and final part of their Dystopia EP line. Titled Dystopia: Road to Utopia, the album completes a powerful storyline, which began with “Scream”, continued with “Boca“, and now concludes with “Odd Eye”. Member Handong finally rejoins the group for the promotions.
Dreamcatcher is one of those groups that has established a distinct musical identity for themselves. Their songs contain elements of the rock music spectrum that are fused with gorgeous vocals, and could easily be the opening to an epic anime. With this album, Dreamcatcher steps out of familiar territory. Although it is a versatile and well-produced closure to the Dystopia EPs, its versatility fails to hold the album together.
The album’s lead trick “Odd Eye” serves as a good addition to the list of Dreamcatcher’s immaculate lead singles. It blends several musical elements into one, and pairs them with vigorous vocals to yield a catchy, impactful track. Admittedly, “Odd Eye” is not as groundbreaking as their previous releases like “Scream”, but in the contextual setting it was released in (the final track of the Dystopia line), it perfectly holds its ground. Surprisingly, the journey ends on an unlucky and sad note: the girls fail to find their dream land, and realize it all to be nothing but a lie:
In a moment of ecstasy, the fantasy is perfected
As reality is covered
My eyes have changed, I can see the end
I am now facing the lie inside the hope
The realization of this discovery is expressed through the lyrics. However, the members confront this fact with power and wrath instead of mourning and sadness. They remain strong while facing this truth. This is particularly recognizable in the high and impactful vocals.
In “Wind Blows”, Dreamcatcher experiments with elements of cyberpunk, techno and dubstep. From its very first second, the song is thundering and gliding over a heavy bass beat. Handong, Yoohyeon and Sua showcase their charming timbres during the pre-chorus before the chorus comes crashing in. Although the members have the skill to master this track, it ultimately lacks any impact. The post-chorus screaming à la Evanescence sounds odd and isolated from the rest of the track. There are some good ideas in “Wind Blows”, but their interplay leaves room for improvement.
However, Dreamcatcher quickly redeem themselves with the follow-up track “Poison Love”. Similar to the preceding track, “Poison Love” is built over a heavy bass beat and is packed with EDM and electronic elements. The instrumental is kept very subtle for the sake of a captivating atmosphere.
With the exception of the gorgeous pre-chorus, which benefits from Siyeon‘s amazing vocals, this track has no remarkable development. The members’ enchanting vocals and low registers do, nonetheless, make it very intense. This matches its lyrical content, which depicts the toxicity and obsession that can arise from love:
Oh I am getting addicted
I already fall in love
blocking my eyes again
Despite the lack of attention from and the emotional pain inflicted by their significant other, the members end up going back to them, but increasingly question their decisions. In particular, the repetitive chorus hauntingly conveys the member’s despair. Dreamcatcher have been experimenting with EDM for their past few releases, and this track is a poignant product of their growth, and aptitude for challenging different musical styles.
“4 Memory” follows, but unfortunately it disappoints vastly. The track’s verses do not build up properly towards its EDM-heavy chorus, which sounds like a leftover Chainsmokers beat. Above all, it sounds outdated and generic, something that Dreamcatcher tracks usually never are. With “4 Memory”, the feeling that the group’s full potential hasn’t been tapped, lingers.
In return, the final track “New Days” serves as an adequate closure. Reminiscent of Day6‘s songs and also Dreamcatcher’s own masterpiece “You and I“, it evokes a hopeful, yet nostalgic feeling. With this track, Dreamcatcher return to familiar territory — the rock genre. The rock elements are overflowing from the start and the guitar-fuiled chorus is paired with the member’s powerful and prominent vocals. Lyrically, they reaffirm the quest and resilience to find “you” in hope for better days. Striking is that the lyrics remain ambivalent on who “you” is:
In between the disappeared time, find you
Even if I faint, even if I get tired
If your voice reaches me
A new days come to me
It could be a lover or a friend, but no matter who it is, this vagueness adds to the song’s adventurous and refreshing feel. It’s nice to know that member Dami was involved in both the writing and production of this track.
Ambivalent also seems to be the right word to describe Dystopia: Road to Utopia. While the good tracks are immaculate, the tracks that are less so are very redundant. This contrast negatively impacts the album’s coherence. For now, Dreamcatcher seem to be caught up between their signature sound and a move towards a more public friendly EDM-sound. Hopefully for their next release, the group will be able to blend the two genres better.