November 6, 2022

There are times when you just want to get in the car and drive, with something sunny and uplifting on the stereo, and it is for those occasions that this band were made.

There are always an array of weighty and challenging releases to review (or at least in my ‘to do pile’ there are anyway!), so sometimes it’s a nice change of pace to check out something altogether lighter, as a sort of musical palate-cleanser, if you will. One such menu item is the debut album release from Caravan Dream, a band formed by four multinational ex-pats who came together while working in Qatar, which is fairly short, and devoid of any hefty compositions or tricky time changes, and yet is a quite delightfully irresistible listen. There are times when you just want to get in the car and drive, with something sunny and uplifting on the stereo, and it is for those occasions that this band were made.

Described by themselves as ‘pop-rock’, this is certainly an accurate label for the music here, and yet there is more to it than that, as the band wring the very most out of each of the seven compositions here, with the guitar work particularly impressive. The title track, and second song up, Fantasy, was a pre-release single, and certainly sets out the band’s stall well, as does the opener Moonlight. There’s a sort of Coldplay-meets-Pilot vibe about these tracks, and yet they hit the spot for me better than either of those two bands – but as the album goes on the band do spread their wings a little. Constellation is another catchy and fairly frothy number, and yet the exceptionally good instrumental section threatens to lead it into almost proggy territory. They can rock a little harder as well, as the closing track (and possible highlight to these ears) Into Your Maze shows. Indeed, I would like to see the band explore this sort of direction a little more on future releases, as they do it with consummate aplomb.

This is certainly a rather brief listen – at only 26 minutes or so it is more of a ‘mini-album’, or even a long EP, but it’s the kind of music that works best when it comes in, does its job, and leaves you with a smile on your face. Qatar is much in the news at the moment, with the World Cup about to take place there, and this is something the band have smartly tapped into, having arranged to play at several of the ‘fan zones’ throughout the tournament. Theirs is the perfect material for that kind of casual showcase, and I can imagine them making a lot of friends along the way. In fact, to take the football idea a little further, it is no great stretch to imagine this stuff accompanying those ‘montages’ of highlights, or of stadium shots, so beloved by the TV networks during the tournament. Listening to the album, at several points I had that image in my mind, and it was a seamless mental match.

Caravan Dream may sound a little like the name of a prog band, but don’t be fooled. They are simply an excellent band who do the simple-sounding things extremely well, and possess a maturity and sophistication when it comes to arrangement and musicianship which goes far beyond the easy description of ‘pop rock’. This album won’t change your life, but it might just slot very well into a particular corner of it. There is much potential here.