Is there any more soulful sound than that of a Fender Rhodes or similar bubbling away over a bass and some drums? The group idesia, who hail from Los Angeles and are a self-styled electro-soul band of four, clearly cannot get enough of the aforementioned soulful syrup, and on this introduction who could blame them? This deliciously laid-back set of nine grooves entitled Golden Dreams is a tremendous introduction to a group surely destined for a bright future. Led by singer Sophie Dimitroff’s dulcet tones and the mellifluous musicianship of the band, Golden Dreams is a fine debut, bursting with potential and beauty.
Immediately upon hearing album opener “Nu,” a mellow warmth hits and never lets go. There are shades of Hiatus Kaiyote in both musical stylings and Sophie’s vocal delivery and phrasing which is reminiscent of Nai Palm’s at certain points, while the lyrical content is intelligent, thoughtful and affecting. In short, there is much to admire and fall in love with. “Away” starts with grandiose and atmospheric synth lines and maintains the same irrepressibly dramatic feel throughout until a breakdown in the final 30 seconds that brings the tension to release.
A change in tempo strikes with “Where Are You?,” with guitar flashes hidden deep in the mix, until they burst forth in the final moments to reveal a ripping finale to a rousing, pop-tinged song. “April Love” comes over all Jill Scott on us, with a slow burning jam that wouldn’t feel out of place on Jill’s debut album -- a close cousin of “Love Rain” if you will. It cranks up almost imperceptibly and drips with sensuality from start to finish, courtesy of this gradual increase in the musical pressure cooker, but also the hesitant and deliberate vocal delivery from Dimitroff.
“Sun Eyes” begins as the most obviously electro track thus far, but idesia mold that electro sound into a soulful and emotive thing of beauty. They seem to manage this effortlessly, wringing every drop of feeling from the situation. And so it goes for the duration of the album. “Chasing Rain” is a somber examination of hitting the bottom, while “Gone”s downbeat opening submits to a melancholy groove that could go for days with its backbeat, irreplaceable keys and splashes of cymbals.
Although the majority of the album thus far has lead singer Sophie cast as a slyly alluring siren, “Back and Forth” finds her exclaiming "I can be the baddest bitch you know" over the funkiest groove yet, at a tempo approaching party levels, while a running synth line propels the song ever onwards. It is further proof of the potential to go in numerous directions that idesia possess and sets excitement levels for future work firmly at high. Album closer “Comethru” is emblematic of the album as a whole. It begins with piano and backing vocals seemingly coming from a distant hallway, while a decidedly moody and atmospheric air settles over the whole thing from start to end.
Whereas some bands create atmosphere at the expense of memorable tunes, idesia suffer not one iota of that fate on Golden Dreams. They succeed not just with style but with substance, too. And while one or two tracks meld into one blissed out yet homogenous entity, the majority of the time they set the music free, arm it with a deadly ability to burrow into your subconscious and then wait for you to hit the repeat button. And you will -- time after time.