Bare Wires – Idle Dreams
All the Bare Wires guys look so happy in the video for “Don’t Ever Change,” a lead track from their third LP, Cheap Perfume. But at this year’s SXSW, the mood wasn’t so cheery. Drummer Omar Hernandez was in poor health and had to be replaced on the fly, a situation which founder Matthew Melton told various publications was self-induced. The high-stress environment of the fast-paced Austin festival is no place to induct a new member. The chaos ultimately consumed them.
Idle Dreams is the final LP for the Oakland outfit, released several months after their public demise. It shows obvious progression from the preceding fun and lighthearted garage-pop offerings, bearing more resemblance to Melton’s new glam-leaning project Warm Soda. Had Melton not already dropped Warm Soda tunes at the time of Idle Dreams’ release, the new sound wouldn’t be so suspicious. But in light of his new project, it appears Melton may have prematurely collected the life insurance on Bare Wires. The notion that the band’s undoing began before that ill-fated week now seems plausible.
The title alone signifies a bleak outlook, and it’s confirmed from the get-go with “Impossible Things.” Melton sings through clenched teeth his resentment toward the glamorization of the music industry: “Caught up in a dream/ Like the world in a magazine/…The sun is in your face not to know what it means.” On the title track, which features a repeated dark, mesmerizing riff, he adds to the grim theme: “Don’t look them right into the eyes/ They’ll be no place for you to hide/ When it comes right back to you.” The song is a “Missing” poster on a telephone pole reporting his lost ambitions. The fine print would likely read: Actually, don’t bother looking, I’ve given up too.
But in truth, Melton hasn’t given up on music – only Bare Wires. In addition to Warm Soda, with which he’s already touring, in the wake of Bare Wires he’s put together a studio for his label Fuzz City. And Idle Dreams isn’t completely a collection of Melton’s jaded vibe. There’s the mildly peppy “Julia,” which for the record sounds undeniably like an early Strokes song, and the clap-worthy beat of “One More Hour of Love.”
Still, it’d be more accurate to consider Cheap Perfume the final Bare Wires album. Idle Dreams is too cynical to serve as the group’s ultimate goodbye. This is Melton’s transition out of the band, not the collective work of guys who used to be buds.