Dreamcatcher – ‘Apocalypse: Follow Us’ review: girl group’s cohesive new record returns to an urgent rock sound

Despite its flaws, this mini-album stands as testimony to Dreamcatcher’s self-awareness and growth

On ‘Apocalypse: Save Us’, Dreamcatcher warned of the devastating effects of climate change, sending out a cry for help and wishing for someone to rescue their home from annihilation. Going into ‘Apocalypse: Follow Us,’ it’s clear that their efforts were in vain. As the day of reckoning approaches, Dreamcatcher mourn their home, but turn grief into action and power – going from hapless civilians to self-assured leaders building the world anew.

Where ‘Apocalypse: Save Us’ kicked off with soaring choirs inspiring dread and despair, its successor holds none of that helplessness, but a sense of urgency and action. On opening track ‘Intro: Chaotical X’, the group swap out the orchestral organ arrangements for fast-paced techno beats laden with haunting electric guitar riffs and piano melodies. Reminiscent of trance music of the aughts, the track feels distinctly dystopian – fit for a party in a cyberpunk fantasia where people have turned wastelands into clubs.

But all is not lost, as they proclaim on ‘Vision’. A step-up from the pop-rock sound of ‘Maison’ – the title track on ‘Save Us’ – the gritty rock arrangement on ‘Vision’ translates into a single-minded intensity that perfectly complements the theme of the album. It’s neatly balanced with tense moments of build-up where their voices take on an uncharacteristic softness before delivering the proverbial right hook as they break into cries of “Forward march! March along the steps and reload, towards the hill of enemies.

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While the determination on ‘Vision’ is borderline violent, ‘Fairytale’ clues us into the peaceful motivations behind it. The track offers dreamy melodies layered with exciting guitar riffs and high-pitched group harmonies. They paint a welcoming picture of the utopia they aim to create: “This might sound like a fantasy / Don’t worry, look up and you’ll see, you’re living a fairytale.

They double down on this feeling in ‘Outro: Mother Nature’. A direct contrast to the intro, which is also the only other instrumental track on the album, this track revisits and affirms the optimism of ‘Fairytale’. Opening with a flute arrangement reminiscent of Final Fantasy, the song picks up the pace with atmospheric melodies and a marching drum beat that closes out the album.

While not as explicit, the other songs on the project draw on similar positive elements as depicted in ‘Vision’ and ‘Fairytale’, even if the effort isn’t as impactful. On ‘Some Love’, the group proclaim the journey to their new world starts with opening our hearts to love – a noble, but clichéd idea. The song’s mid-tempo pop sounds, too, are scattered and dated.

Another weak offering is the album’s only ballad, ‘Rainy Day’. While its depiction of struggles and forgotten memories is a good thematic fit, the slow piano-R&B arrangement is uninspired. Couple that with the extended instrumental segment towards the middle, and it feels more like a drag than a poignant remembrance of times well spent.

Contrary to initial expectations, ‘Apocalypse: Follow Us’ is not propelled by anger, but by love and faith in a world that isn’t eroded by human ignorance and selfishness. This self-awareness certainly makes ‘Follow Us’ a far more cohesive offering than its predecessor. At 14 tracks, ‘Save Us’ often sounded rudderless due to the sheer number of songs and subjects. ‘Follow Us’ may have fewer tracks, but each contributes to Dreamcatcher’s larger vision. While the urgency and energy dissipates at times and dilutes the effectiveness of their message, this mini-album does stand as proof of their musical growth – it’s clear that the group has a far better understanding of their identity now, making their future all the more exciting.

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Dreamcatcher - 'Apolocalypse: Follow Us'

  • Release date: October 11
  • Record label: Dreamcatcher Company
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