“Dream House” is the debut album by Manchester-based rockers Outside Now, and it is a highly ambitious debut, to say the least. The record draws influence from a lot of genres to create an ethereal (and at many points orchestral) multi-layered sound. The album spans 12 tracks, some of which are interludes and intermissions that add to the theme and vibe of the record…almost making it a full-on concept album.

The first track is the short but sweet intro, Wheeling Empire Bright. It’s full of ambient and atmospheric sounds and it sets the tone for what’s coming, and then the ambient sounds flow into the following track Follow The Slope Down which got me truly hooked. For the first half of this track, you could only hear ethereal vocals, produced in multiple layers together. Once the guitars and drums hit, I was expecting a violent climax but they managed to make the song maintain its charming and magical production without changing too much. After the climax had finished, the ambient and atmospheric sounds come back, and all I could think of while hearing them was how much they resemble ocean sounds. The second song Nadir takes the same ambient and synth sounds but with a changed melody on top of them, soft percussion, and a soft airy head voice from the lead vocalist. This song differs from the previous one a little bit, in the way you can hear the distorted guitars louder than the ambient synths…and I’m amazed by how these guys are capable of performing both those styles. The song ends with another atmospheric section and then it is followed by Overlooked, Overseen which had a lot of blues influence. I really loved how the vocals matched with the timing of the drums and the clean guitars. The song had some solid bass lines too, which created a highly dynamic edge and a sense of groove. This song is my favorite on the whole record, because of the vocalist’s long notes and the Pink Floydian vibes I got from the song’s composition and structure, and the guitar/organ battle that forms the song’s climax. 

The following track is the short interlude The Terminal, which had a lot of ambient and broodingly scary sounds. I Keep Falling has a lot of post-rock and shoegaze elements like some of the previous tracks, but the use of strings and the scales on which their parts are composed give you a lot of horror vibes that will keep it stuck in your head for days. The weeping style of the vocalist is very unique and characteristic, although her tone is bright and she has a light timbre. It’s an amazing and rare mix. The title track, Dream House, is a piano piece that speaks to the soul and instigates emotions much more than a lot of other pieces of music I’ve heard before. It’s significantly and remarkably moving. 

Bridget, It’s Too Far to Jump has my favorite hook/chorus of the album, and it has another Floydian solo. The playfulness of the airy, breathy vocals works so well with the drumming pattern and the soft saxophone which makes the song all the more dreamy. The ending of the track flows into the interlude Gelatinous Wasteland, which has some indistinct chatter and intermissions that flow into the following track Another Day…which, for me, was the track that perfectly nailed the balance between progressive rock and shoegaze. What keeps the band’s personality and unique sound though is the lengthy solo and the atmospheric outro…if you heard them separately you would never believe these two parts belong on the same track, but these guys have some magic songwriting methods to work these sections into one beautiful composition that really had me hooked. That outro flows into the interlude, Recklessly Hooked, which has more of the scary ambient ocean sounds from before. It flows right into the final track, Last Orders, which has some tribal percussions and clean swaying guitars. Some string melodies interlock with what the guitars are doing to bring that joyous and heavenly element to the sound. I really loved this arrangement and the peacefulness it brought after so many dark songs in the beginning and the middle of the song. 

In conclusion, this album has a vast range of instruments, emotions, and ideas to keep more than one demographic of listeners interested. With that being said, the brand of sound that Outside Now have given themselves is so intricate and unique that you will not be able to think of a band that has the same blend of sounds and elements as them. I’m sure that in a few more years and a few more records from now this soundtrack-like sound with its gorgeous production will become instantly recognizable to fans and it will be known as the special “Outside Now Sound”…at least for me it is, and that’s why I heavily recommend this album for you.