Retrowave Album Review: "Dream Warriors" by Taurus 1984
Taurus 1984’s Dream Warriors album absolutely bursts with retro energy, positive vibes and great vocals, along with some well-done guitar work and just the right amount of social commentary.
Dream Warriors Album Review
The first observation I want to make about Dream Warriors is that all of the singers used on the album are excellent. Their voices are superb and they know how to deliver on the vocal melodies and the different overall vibes in the songs. They all seem to find the right emotions and expressions in the music and they’re one of the reasons that the album works as well as it does.
I have to also talk about the instrumentalists here. Tim Sudbury’s guitar work shreds, flies and sings and Steve Sax definitely hits the right feeling on his sax solos. The music that Alastair Jenkins and Bobby Coles have written is nicely brought to life with those additions.
The feeling that the songwriters have created on the album is absolutely right. It has the retro synthpop feeling nailed and they keep it going easily. Dream Warriors is an exploration of many different facets of ‘80s pop and each of them sounds just right.
The synth work on this album has the right degree of balance between being allowed to shine and acting as support for the singers. The glittering, shiny feeling of the synths is one more element that keeps Dream Warriors full of pop brightness and energy as it moves along.
Alastair Jenkins and Bobby Coles have also created lyrics that have a pop sensibility. However I like the fact that there’s more to them than just that. There is often undertones to the words that say a little more without falling into a trap of breaking too far from the pop feeling of Dream Warriors.
Now I’m going to talk about the tracks on Dream Warriors that I enjoyed the most and break down the reasons for my enjoyment!
“Dream Warriors” has an infectious combination of driving groove along with synth flow and glow. I enjoyed the retro feeling of the vocals along with little bursts of chip-like sound dancing out into the track along with the vocal melodies. I liked the feeling of the shredding, dancing guitar solo and the synth warmth here. The vocal work is excellent on this track as well, full of energy.
This is a song about escaping from the world, from seeking ways out of facing what can be a tough reality. When we chase sunsets, drive all night or take little white pills to stay “in the game” we are always running away. There’s also the ever present fact that the “fear of growing old alone drowns in my brain.” There’s a sense of resignation in the line, “The way you shrug your shoulders and walk away. Better luck next time I heard you say.”
This is a song for, “the broken hearted…the Lost Boys…the Dream Warriors” who are all just “waiting for the dawn.”
This is also a song about the “armchair intellectual with a chip on your shoulder” who feels that life didn’t “deal you the hand you wanted” and who has grown cold on the world. The next line says, “And if we sing a long baby a little god damn louder, it may be alright, seem alright, every little things gonna be just fine.”
There’s a propulsive beat and guitars that fly over the top of “Invisible Summer.” It's another song with a fun retro vibe that’s full of ‘80s style and energy. The singing itself has a great poppy feeling and the jazzy sax riff adds a nice impassioned touch to the music.
Pure nostalgia absolutely flows from the lyrics. They are warm and breezy, full of great energy. I really like the imagery in lines like, “Bette Davis Eyes was on the stereo/We drove along the coast straight into the sun.” The ultimate feeling of missing things past is conveyed in the words, “All I’ve got is invisible summers now, all I’ve got is this heartache.”
“Home” has a bouncy beat and cascading synths that dance through the track. This song moves and bursts with energy as that beat rebounds and bops along. The high synth shines out over the beat. Everything on this track glitters and there’s another shredding guitar solo that moves into the song.
The lyrics of this song talk about a person trapped in delusion, unable to find something essential that we all seek and in danger of losing it all. The song opens with the line, “You’re hiding in those places that you know don’t exist, in your mind in your dreams and you’re stuck in-between.” The narrator goes on to say, “You’re perceptive to the notion that you’re losing your mind, searching for that something that you know you won’t find.” There’s the feeling that, “The moment that we say goodnight, could be the moment that we say goodbye…”
Life becomes a situation in which, “you’re sleeping all the time never waking from this nightmare” but the moment that you wake up is the moment you “keep looking for that place you can really call home.” The hollowness of the relationship that this song discusses is clear in the line, “You don’t want to sleep alone, but you’ll always dream alone, searching in the night trying to find your way home.”
“Callin’ You” is a song with a powerfully retro nature defined by melodic vocals and smooth, lambent synths that glide along. The whole song conveys a message of positive growth and moving past obstacles. The guitar winds and spins out a great solo that further adds to the energy bursting through this song.
This is a song about moving beyond a certain point in a relationship. There’s a certain bleakness in the song with lines like, “I’m sleeping in my car, coz I don’t want to dream” and “we’re staying up all night, with pretty white lines to make us feel alright, distraction’s what I need coz I’m starting to feel like me.”
However the song quickly turns that around when the lyrics say, “I’m getting myself to the point where I don’t care who you are and I don’t care who you’re with.” The narrator is moving on and makes it clear by saying, “I’m callin’ you for the last time…Forgetting all about you feels so good, we’re just doin’ it for ourselves, we don’t need no one else.”
In another reflection of life, the person the song addresses has made it easier for the narrator to let go by always playing “the long game” to help them get back to the point of not caring who they are or who they’re with.” As the narrator says, “I’ve got that night time fever boy and it don’t involve you!”
Funky R&B influences just ooze from “Situations” and the whole track has a great vibe. The funky bass, the jazz organ feeling to the synths and the horn hits really add to that groovy feeling. I like how the chorus adds an uplifting sound to the song. The vocal melody is superb and delivered by another one of the great vocalists that Taurus 1984 have to choose from on this album. The sax solo here is another excellent addition to the track with more of that fun jazz feeling and I also liked the melody synth that was used here.
This is another good song about breaking free of a dysfunctional relationship. The lyrics take the subject of the song to task nicely in lines like, “You’re twenty-five honey but you’re acting like a baby, stop and listen to what ya have become” and “I don’t know what you are running from the whole day long.”
Like so many relationships, it started off with “mad love, quickly turned to bad love” and now the singer says, “the grapevine speaks the truth so we know that we’ve got to quit and walk away.”
Ultimately the narrator is ready to move on and she says, “Night time is the right time for breakin’ up and movin’ on.”
Dream Warriors is an album that manages to be nostalgic while still maintaining high quality when it comes to the singing, the songwriting and the overall musical landscape that it creates. This is retro synthpop that is in no way lazy or phoned it. It doesn’t rely on the clichés of the style, but forges a unique path. I hope Taurus 1984 keep finding ways to explore the genre and expand it in interesting directions.