When I was assigned this 7” from Drunk Dial Records, the name of the label caused me to assume it would be a skatepunk album. Why? I’m not totally sure. I couldn’t have been more wrong, though, and was surprised upon listening to Drunk Dial #5, the Fell in Love With A Spirit 7” by the band Cry Babe.
This dream punk trio is not the '90s-esque mix of quick tempo drums, snotty vocals, and “we listen to metal” guitar parts I expected. In fact, they’re the complete antithesis of that. When I received this release for review, I didn’t know what to write about it. Stylistically, it’s far from the corner I’ve spent two decades painting myself into. But since I received this assignment (which I received much too long ago and I am sorry it took so long to post this review), some life experiences have caused me to hear music like this in a new way. I think I can safely say that we need 7”s like this one and we need bands like Cry Babe. At least, I think I do.
Note: I don’t know what “dream punk” is but whaddayaknow, there is a website called whatisdreampunk.com, which has some very pertinent things to say about the matter. Apparently, it’s related to vaporwave. Makes sense.
For me, music like this serves a very specific purpose. It calms me and engages me in a way less direct than it probably does for its “real fans.” Sometimes, though, you need a change in atmosphere. Music -- ever the mood changer -- can transform your caffeine-infused, anxiety-controlled brain into an introspective, restful, and more purposeful thought machine. I guess, in short, I’ve learned that you can’t go 200 bpm forever. Bands that sound like Cry Babe have been an important part in my becoming more vulnerable -- a skill we may have to keep relearning through life.
From the information I was given, Drunk Dial Records does this thing where they put a band in the studio and have them record one original and one cover. The latter is recorded under the influence of some drink/drug concoction. We’ll get to that soon, though.
Cry Babe’s side A track “A Romance of Many Dimensions,” does in fact make me feel like I’m traveling through many dimensions on whatever drug they did for their B-side. The steady tempo, simple yet repetitive guitar and bass parts, and airy reverb/phasing effects do a fantastic job of keeping this song moving. But the instrumentation’s purpose isn’t to be front-and-center. Cry Babe -- on this track -- explore dynamics more through effects, vocals, and lyrics. I guess if this song were a movie, the raw guitar, bass, and drum parts would be the setting; the vocals would be the protagonist; and the audio effects (aka reverb, phaser, shoegazey shit) would be the sequence of events that influence your feelings while you listen to it. As it moves toward its end, vocalist Anaïs Genevieve longingly croons “Am I an orphan now?” while the shoegazey shit (I am out of my wheelhouse here) becomes more intense and climactic. Cry Babe’s intentional use of these sounds is what draws you in emotionally, and they do a great job of it.
As for the cover on the B side, Cry Babe covered the song “Violet” by Hole. Apparently -- and as per the Drunk Dial rules -- they performed this on a drug concoction so gnarly that its components were redacted from the press release. I like Hole, but they are a traditionally loud rock band from the grunge era - -AKA much different than Cry Babe, who is more minimalistic and plays within the space rather than exploding out of it. They use this technique to their advantage in this cover. It never “breaks out” like the original, but it would be out of place if it did. They made this cover their own while maintaining the emotional impact of the original. And they didn’t even need their instruments to scream at you! This minimalistic approach is their strength on this 7” and something that musicians like me don’t do enough.
This Cry Babe release keeps me in my seat rather than urging me to stand up and kick it over, and I still feel like I’ve gone through a journey while listening to it. Granted, maybe I am missing the point of their band completely. But I’m going to go ahead and give them a 7/10 for this. What they’re doing isn’t for me all of the time, but it’s really nice to listen to right now.
7.0 / 10
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