Album Review: Dreamcatcher – Dystopia: The Tree Of Language

The first album from one of the most exciting girl groups in kpop – does it live up to expectations? Let’s go track by track!

As a fan of rock and punk music, Dreamcatcher have long been one of my favourite girl groups. It’s rare for kpop to heavily incorporate rock in its sound, but when it does it can result in some of my favourite tracks – Block B’s Very Good was one of the first kpop songs I truly fell in love with, and A.C.E’s Under Cover was my number 1 kpop song of last year.

It’s even rarer for a girl group to tackle this sound, but Dreamcatcher have managed carve out a really unique niche in the occasionally homogeneous world of kpop. Even beyond their attention grabbing rock sound and use of gothic imagery, their work has been of consistently high quality, and they’ve proven themselves to be really talented and versatile performers that can pull off a range of styles and sounds with aplomb.

Given all of that, my expectations were high for this album, though I am a little disappointed that Handong was unable to be involved in the album – she’s currently on hiatus as she is participating in Idol Producer in China. Hopefully we can get some OT7 versions of these songs once she returns! Let’s get into the tracks! (excluding the Intro/Outro as I don’t have a whole lot to say about them)

Track 2 – Scream

I reviewed this song very positively previously in The Week In Kpop, and it remains a banger, one of Dreamcatcher’s most exciting and ambitious title tracks yet. A thrilling way to kick off the album.

Track 3 – Tension

I’m a little surprised this wasn’t the title track – it’s certainly worthy of being one, and has that traditional Dreamcatcher rock sound that may have made for a safer, less divisive choice than the more out-there Scream. For the record, I prefer Scream, but this is pretty fantastic too, with a dynamic mix of pummelling rock sections with softer symphonic sections.

Track 4 – Red Sun

My favourite song on the album. I am downright obsessed with this track’s witchy atmosphere, haunted music-box sound, and off-kilter, intoxicating melody. The vocals here are just enchanting too, and Dami’s rap is absolute fire. This is pretty far from rock, but there’s not really any other group I can imagine doing a spooky, sultry, culty bop like this. All the girls in the coven are dropping it low to this masterpiece!

Track 5 – Black Or White

A great track anchored by a killer riff, and I adore how funky the chorus is here. Dami’s verse is a real highlight, I love the way she raps over the riff and the ways the percussion changes during that part. There’s a lot of elements to this song and it could easily feel disjointed, but somehow all of the elements complement each other really well. Fantastic track.

Track 6 – Jazz Bar

Ooh, this is smooth as silk. A chill, jazzy, noir flavoured bop that Dreamcatcher pull off effortlessly. Music like this can often fade into the background for me but I am transfixed by this every time I hear it, and all of their voices sound so beautiful and sweet and sexy on this track.

Track 7 – SAHARA

Dreamcatcher share producers with one of my favourite boy groups, Ateez, and this sounds like it could definitely have also been an Ateez song – the desert theme works with Ateez’s concept, and Dami even kind of sounds like Mingi during her rap here. This track has a great atmosphere and I love the Arabic sounding guitar and Siyeon’s high note.

Track 8 – In The Frozen

Another track that gives me slight Ateez vibes, this is a chilly electronic track reminiscent of Silent Night. The drop chorus here may be one of the weaker choruses on the album, but the horn blasts give it some heft and the way the bridge builds up to the more dynamic and intense final chorus is very effective and exciting.

Track 9 – Daybreak

The least flashy song on the album, this is a subdued, laid back track that allows the girls’ voices to shine. There’s a great groove here and a real sweetness to this track – it’s certainly not the most exciting song, but it’s not boring either.

Track 10 – Full Moon

Full Moon (along with Over The Sky, which is on the physical album but not the Spotify version for some reason) is an older song that was originally released as a special anniversary digital single, so it definitely has that classic Dreamcatcher rock sound to it. I really love the bridge of this song, and I think closing with an underrated older track like this is a great way to end the album on a nostalgic high.

Final Thoughts

I am absolutely blown away by this album, I was expecting a great album from Dreamcatcher and they definitely delivered. I love that there’s a real range of genres and sounds tackled on this album, but it all still feels consistent and cohesive – that can be a real challenge to pull off. I definitely need to give a lot of praise to LEEZ and Ollounder for their production and composition work here, everything sounds amazing, the songs are interesting and varied, and Dreamcatcher simply would not be Dreamcatcher without their fantastic production behind them.

The performances are great across the board as well, I am of course a bit sad that Handong did not participate in this album, but other than that I really can’t find anything to complain about here. This is a practically flawless album that is going to be a very, very strong contender for the best kpop album of 2020. Cannot recommend it highly enough.

Final Rating: 5/5

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