Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Dorian Gray - The Sounds of Dorian Gray -1999

Dorian Gray plays melodic, guitar-based pop/rock in a style derived from Anglo-American bands of the mid-'60s, even if singer/lyricist Torben Freytag heard much of it secondhand through '70s new wave groups like Blondie. Producers David Myhr and Anders Hellgren have given those guitars a shimmering sound that sustains through the songs, lending a confectionery tone to Freytag's lyrics, most of which concern the dichotomy between ordinary life and stardom in the entertainment business. This theme is introduced in the opening track, "Daydreamer," in which the singer addresses a companion named Sheila, exhorting her to give up her waitressing job, remember their "master plan," and accompany him in leaving for a place where they may be able to realize their dreams. That those dreams concern fame as an entertainer is made clear in later songs such as "She's With the Band" and "We Could Be Stars," the latter making things explicit in lines like this: "Life is tragic in a way/at least for those who never make it." So far, however, Freytag seems to have a better sense of ordinary, mundane life than he does of life in the fast lane, as he devotes other songs to such subjects as watching the news on television ("Delirious") and juvenile delinquency ("Running With the Dogs"). He only occasionally betrays his origin in these English-language performances, now and then coming up with an awkward combination of words or singing something with an odd emphasis. For the most part, however, he is buoyed along by the surging music. It's not clear that the American music market of 2000 is looking for an eager, energetic power pop band, but if so, Dorian Gray stands ready. -AMG

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