It’s winter-time; cold, overcast, and constantly drizzly. It is only fitting therefore to immerse oneself into the sun-drenched, mellow, California dream-pop haziness of Netherlands-based band Dakota and their EP Leda.
Dakota has been repeatedly described as “psychedelic”, however it can be quite successfully argued that their sound on this EP is leaning more towards indie pop than anything else – albeit with smatterings of dream pop. The opening track ‘Automatic’, for example, is exceptionally accessible and a solid introduction to Dakota’s sound – what with the full bodied, Cali-surf reverb of the lead guitar, and the soothing/dream-like bada bada badada‘s in the background makes it sound as though it’s straight from an advert for a holiday in the Bahamas. There aren’t any crazy vocal effects, or bizarre tape loops, and the bass-line doesn’t do much dancing – however, it’s a very satisfying tune.
Some of the psychedelic/dream-pop claims become more warranted when we come to the second track, and latest single, ‘Icon’. The experimental drum patterns – that are just a stoner’s throw away from avant-garde jazz at times – prance around , whilst being held together with the conversely metronomic C chord that is obsessively strummed on acoustic guitar; thus creating a drone-like effect that is normally associated with Indian music. This psychedelic vibe is furthered with an ambient and ethereal whistling/whooshing in the background that persists throughout the entirety of the song – and not in an irksome or intrusive way either, whilst an effortlessly groovy yet simple bass-line saunters confidently, underpinning the whole thing. There’s also a lovely, descending riff on the chorus-riddled lead guitar that repeatedly pops up, tinging the piece with a wistful, nostalgia-based melancholy – evoking images of a long car journey home in the California sunset, having left a beach party where you caught up with a childhood friend or an old girlfriend.
This feeling is only enhanced with the ridiculously soothing lead vocals that convey quite mournful lyrics, concerning a girl whose attempts at being more like the girl who her spouse is having an affair with fall on deaf ears.
Whilst it’s certainly true that Dakota have a certain sound that makes you want to doze off on a garden bench in the shade of a summer’s evening, this doesn’t apply to all of their tunes on this EP. There’s definitely some grit in this warm chocolate pudding. The track called ‘Leave Me Out’ is so angsty in tone and sound that you could be convinced it’s a long lost track from Alanis Morissette‘s Jagged Little Pill; we’re talking the breathy, yodely-esque vocals, grungey drums, and lyrics that ooze with alienation and detachment (I had a sudden urge to buy incense sticks, a choker, and start a diary wherein a write the words “nobody understands me” on every page). There’s also some nods and winks with the lead guitar on this track towards Californication-era Red Hot Chili Peppers too. The bass in particular stands out as the star of this track; McCartney-esque in complexity, and completely hypnotic in rhythm.
On the spectrum of genre, they’re closer to Warpaint than they are to Melody’s Echo Chamber – in line with acts like Unknown Mortal Orchestra and the lo-fi moments of Foxygen. It’s also important to note that, whilst a few of these tracks were undeniably pleasant and relaxing, there’s an overarching motif of sadness throughout the EP. Some tracks, like ‘Bare Hands’ for example, verge on the outright ominous. However, the experience was enjoyable, and whilst the low-key nature of their music didn’t necessarily blow my socks off, this band’s purpose seems to be putting a comfy pair of them on you instead.
Leda EP is out now. ‘Icon’ is set for a single release on February 10th.