James Neal (vocals/rhythm/guitar), Dylan Bullard (lead guitar), Saam Akbarkhanzadeh (drums) and Sina Akbarkhanzadeh (bass) make up The Phorms. They recently released an eclectic four-song EP entitled When We Dream. The group prefers subtlety and nuance over sheer force when it comes to songwriting. Some of the most enjoyable moments come from this aspect of their music.
Take for instance the combination of bells, cello and violin on their opening track entitled “Invisible Man.” The way these components fit into the song add an additional layer of emotional weight that can almost go unnoticed if you are not paying attention. I was actually a bit surprised that “Invisible Man” was not the closer as it contains nostalgia and melancholy (I probably would have switched the first and last song around but that’s one man's opinions). The song certainly is a highlight and showcases their best talent as songwriters.
“Royal Tea” is a pop song that incorporates a light/jazzy feel to their music. The lead guitar parts are notable on this song and give that extra layer of sound that elevate the song. I especially enjoyed the last minute or two, which is instrumental.
The third track “She Humbles Me” isn’t the strongest song of the four but nevertheless has some good moments. It picks up towards the end and I found what I think was a wind instrument or synth that laid low in the mix to be most of those subtle nuances that made the song work.
They close with “When I Dream” which is the most rocking out the band does. The music sounds like a combination of Johnny Cash and The Animals towards the beginning of the song. As the song progresses it changes direction and actually veers towards punk rock with an unexpected time change. The song is certainly the most ambitious and dynamic as it takes on quite a ride during its duration.
When We Dream has some flaws but the good outweighs the bad. Overall, the album succeeded in gaining my attention with the diverse instrumentation and tones. Recommended.
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