Habibi: Dreamachine [Album Review]

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Kill Rock Stars [2024]

Album Overview: Habibi, co-founded by Rahill Jamalifard and Lenny Lynch in Brooklyn in 2011, quickly gained attention with their distinctive fusion of styles and cultures. Their self-titled debut album in 2014 was met with critical acclaim, noted for its unique blend of 60s girl group surf pop and an edgy, modern twist. Their subsequent works, including the 2018 Cardamom Garden EP and 2020’s Anywhere But Here, showcased their growing complexity and incorporation of Iranian folklore elements. Dreamachine is their newest release, taking listeners onto a new musical plane beyond their traditional garage rock origins. Combining analog and digital elements, the album spans various genres, offering a rich, immersive listening experience. Ten years out from their debut, Dreamachine feels like a natural progression for Habibi. It is not as punchy as their debut but now finds the band catching your ear with simmering rhythms and an undertone groove that will keep you swaying. Have you experienced their new sound yet? I think old fans will be on board and Dreamachine can capture plenty of new ones!

Musical Style: The album features a mix of post-punk, experimental pop, and vintage disco, infused with Middle Eastern psych music influences. This eclectic soundscape brings together diverse elements to create a unique auditory experience.

Evolution of Sound: Habibi’s sound has matured from its initial, more direct garage pop and surf roots to a more sophisticated and layered sonic landscape. Over the years, their music has become more intricate, blending different genres and cultural influences seamlessly. Dreamachine flows effortlessly from track to track, showcasing their growth. The incorporation of traditional Iranian sounds and modern synthesizers adds depth and complexity to their delivery.

Artists with Similar Fire: Listeners might find echoes of Tom Verlaine, La Luz, Kate Bush, Vivian Girls, and Kim Deal in Dreamachine, reflecting a blend of post-punk, pop, and experimental influences.

Pivotal Tracks: Key tracks on the album include “On The Road,” which sets the tone with its mix of mysticism and punk energy; “In My Dreams,” offering an ethereal escape; and “Alone Tonight,” which captures the album’s blend of cerebral and physical elements. “Do You Want Me Now” is also a great mid-album number with its return to Habibi’s earlier, more direct indie rock sound.

Lyrical Strength: The lyrics on Dreamachine draw from both Eastern and Western traditions, incorporating ancient tales and modern metaphors. The songs deal with the pain of an unending, haunting love, the inevitability of destiny, anxiety or a loss of personal agency, and the quest for personal connection, all while maintaining a poetic and evocative quality.

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Christopher Anthony
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