Sylas Dean has released his debut EP, American Dreeming, available for streaming everywhere you get your music. An east coast native from the small town of Rocky Hill, Connecticut, Sylas packed his car and drove clear across the country with hundreds of songs in his arsenal to reinvent himself as ‘Sylas Dean’: a colorful dreamlike persona that leans into the fantasy of the music. Sylas Dean represents the genre of hyper pop, a dance driven sound accompanied with vibrant dreamscape and club kid imagery. American Dreeming features five tracks to the tune of synth-based power pop melodies, celebrating Sylas’ vocals mixed with rock and dance-oriented instrumentals. The tracks are called “Shine”, “Say My Name”, “Wild”, “Fooling Around”, and “Two of Us”.
According to the press release, American Dreeming is about exploring love and heartbreak through the lens of something as glossy and vibrant as hyper pop, and challenging pain through the power of reinvention. A very cool concept. I was super excited to listen to the album—I was imagining a sound similar to “SugarCrash!” by ElyOtto. I may be twenty-six, but I am a huge fan of sad-boy pop music (think Blackbear, Juice WRLD, Drake, etc).
After listening, though, I have mixed feelings.
First, on the positive side, Sylas has an amazing voice. He reminds me of David Bowie. It’s smooth, sultry, and overall, very pleasant to listen to. Unfortunately, I feel like the sound he is trying to accomplish with his vocals takes away from his lovely voice. Specifically in the song “Two of Us”, his breathy, voice-cracking riffs are just too much. Sometimes less is more, especially when you have natural talent like Sylas.
Second, the sound of the album has more of a 90’s pop vibe than I was expecting—but I love it! The album consists of feel-good music that I could imagine as the background music to a club-scene in a movie. While American Dreeming sounds nice, I don’t feel that Sylas delivered on his promise to explore the concepts of heartbreak and pain. The songs are catchy, but generic, repetitive, and lacking any sort of depth—every single song seems to be about sex.
“Two of Us” seems to be about hooking up with a stranger, consisting of lyrics such as “don’t know what your name is, don’t you go and waste this”. While “Say My Name” seems to be about the exact same thing, with lyrics like “might just take a chance with you, no time to light me up, I’m high enough, it’s all in the now”. Now, I’m not a prude, but I do have an issue with artists claiming to be baring their soul when the music feels copy/pasted from anything else on the radio.
Overall, there’s nothing necessarily wrong with the album. It’s not bad, but it’s not great either. In my opinion, American Dreeming would make the perfect study music, but not much else.