After catching the immense Mile Marker Zero album earlier this year, I was determined to review an equivalent album. Dream The Electric Sleep found its way into my inbox in due time, and after testing out the stream, I jumped all over the chance to put my mind to this trophy of an album. The Giants’ Newground is a megalith record, spanning 16 songs and oozing with high quality prog rock. It has character flowing throughout, not only in the fantastic lyrical content, but also the wonderful musicianship which emanates from the record.
The Giants’ Newground is not a new album however. On the contrary, this record was first written and recorded in 2008 and released unofficially. It was used more as a way to hook musicians in, and so it did with the addition of bassist Chris Tackett. After three previous releases, Dream The Electric Sleep decided to finish what they started, and re-recorded the album in the summer of 2017, and will be releasing it to the world on the 18th of May.
And it does have a 2008 feel to it, despite having the production value of a 2018 record. The choruses have hooks which sound very much like the alternative rock scene which was blooming at the time, full of charm and great to shout at the top of your lungs. But the tones and the mix all feel very new, and that’s a feature I really enjoy about this record.
I found it very alike to Mile Marker Zero in places, the similar sprawling web of songs giving me a sense of calm when listening in, yet not exciting me too much to bang my head over and over, but enough to keep me locked into its dulcet tones and focused in. It also has a strangely British indie feel to it, despite the band hailing from Kentucky, USA. I’ve been trying to list off bands, but jeez, my memory of those bands is well shot, maybe Maximo Park though?
Onto the songs themselves! Each song has a brilliantly mature sound to it, and sounds well planned out, from lyrics to the various layers. For a three-piece they have an awesome soundscape, some songs sounding absolutely massive. One of my favourite examples of this is the eclectic “Sounds Like Magic”. It’s got a wonderfully fuzzy, psychedelic feel to it, which is offset by its almost Disney vibe. I usually use that as an insult, but in this song the mix is warm and cuddly.
“We’ll See” has some of the chunkiest riffs you’ll hear on the album, and the build up to the wonderful crescendo well worth the wait. It’s one of the those riffs you wish would keep going, and it’s a song I’ve revisited frequently during my time with the album. The tuning on the guitars is brilliant throughout and always suits the song. I loved it when they got really fuzzy, their sound something akin to Turtle Skull which we recently reviewed, or prog rock legends like Amplifier.
Other bits feel a little bit like The Who, especially the riff in “Soulful”, which builds with a blanket of smooth bass against some winding guitars. The drums give the album a nicely epic feel, their hits soft and metered, but powerful nonetheless. Some songs sound quite like dreamgaze, too, with the mind really allowed to wander off into the void DTES have created in this crazy long album.
Which brings me to a negative. I’ve only managed to run The Giants’ Newground in full three times. Sometimes it feels like it drags on, and I found myself checking how many songs were left far too often. despite the album having this pull to it. On numerous occasions I caved and threw on something which excited me more, because I do feel this album has a fair amount of filler. Whilst it is well thought out filler, sometimes the songs feel the same as the last or one a few songs back. Some tracks easily could’ve been cut and combined into a much more lively one, but I appreciate that this is a concept album of sorts, based around stories.
I’d say fans of Haken and especially The Pineapple Thief would vibe with the album nicely, the vocal hooks being one of the main reasons. I’d also check it out if you’re simply feeling something lighter than what you’re used to. Dream The Electric Sleep have created a thoroughly solid output, which doesn’t feel like it is ten years old and has plenty to offer and explore within its 16 tracks. This has been a good year for prog rock and The Giants’ Newground will certainly be in the mix of the best. They’ll have a new album coming out next year which they’ve started recording, so keep and eye out for that.
FFO: Mile Marker Zero, The Pineapple Thief, Maximo Park
Notable Songs: “We Smell The Blood”, “We’ll See”, “Sounds Like Magic”