Review: AFI, No Doubt supergroup Dreamcar celebrates ’80s new wave on debut

Adrian Young, AFI, Blaqk Audio, Davey Havok, Dreamcar, Gwen Stefani, No Doubt, Tom Dumont, Tony Kanal

Credit: Steve Erle

The fate of a supergroup is never certain. After all, there tend to be more Monsters of Folks and SuperHeavys than Creams or Travelling Wilburyses. Davey Havok (of AFI and Blaqk Audio) and all the members of No Doubt who aren’t Gwen Stefani have been quietly working the past couple of years on new music together, creating the nascent Dreamcar.

May 12

The group’s self-titled debut is a celebration of ‘80s new wave with touches of Duran Duran, The Cult and Television throughout. It’s a thoroughly danceable collection of songs. Havok’s voice results in every song being mildly reminiscent of AFI, but the music is a departure from AFI’s and No Doubt’s roots.

Supplemented by Tony Kanal on bass, Tom Dumont on guitar and Adrian Young on drums, Havok wrote all the lyrics for Dreamcar. The entire album seems to be about the dissolution not just of a relationship, but of a person’s ability to love.

It starts with the beat-driven “After I Confess,” then slides right into “Kill for Candy.” The latter is a song about loss and the final things you say to the person you’re leaving behind. “What’s on our tongues/ Is less discreet/ Before it dissolves/ It’s oh so sweet,” Havok sings.

“Born to Lie” is the first of many vocal-style changes for Havok on Dreamcar, but the lyrical tone remains the same. Unable to love or connect emotionally, Havok’s protagonist whines, “I’d love to love you/ Just a little/ I’d love to be moved/ Just a little.”

What is undeniably the album’s catchiest song happens to also be its most morbid. The first 20 seconds of “All of the Dead Girls” hearkens back to The Cult, while the rest is fitting for the most colorful of Tim Burton films. “Take me to your grave,” Havok begs in the bridge of what might be the missing dance number in The Corpse Bride.

Each band member gets an opportunity to shine on Dreamcar. Kanal provides a funky bassline on the dance number “On the Charts,” while Dumont’s spotlight comes on “Don’t Let Me Love” and “After I Confess,” while Young drills his kit on “Slip on the Moon.”

Fans of the group’s origin bands may ultimately be disappointed that the album is such a departure from the decades of music No Doubt and AFI generated. However, it is a wonderful nod to the ‘80s, while creating something new. Dreamcar puts the supergroup on a positive trajectory, hopefully landing them closer to Foo Fighters than Chickenfoot.

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