Coin has shown the capacity to make genuinely great songs. On this album, they don’t.
The four-piece Nashville pop rock band has been teetering on the cusp of relevance over the course of their eight-year long career, with an established name but little in the way of a distinctive sound. Oftentimes, they struggle to truly say anything with their music. This fatal flaw would be somewhere between tolerable and entirely forgivable if only they had a creative edge to engage the listener beyond the songwriting. Unfortunately, the band is all too often derivative of their contemporaries and fails to push the envelope with a sound that is already growing old.
“Dreamland” is an album Coin has been building up to since 2017. That’s not an extraordinarily long time, but for a band existing in the ever-fleeting, ephemeral sphere of bedroom indie pop, it means that you will be re-earning your audience. It also means there are expectations that must be met. Even with a pre-existing horde of fans, that’s no easy feat in an industry where supply far outweighs demand. It requires serviceable execution of an album with songs that are worth listening to. On this album, Coin hasn’t made anything unlistenable, but they haven’t made anything that demands to be returned to either.
The album is not without its adequate moments. “Cemetery” manages to build a genuine bit of tension with its first verse and bouncing melody, even if the execution of its concept is somewhat tired and impersonal. “Crash My Car,” like many of the tunes on “Dreamland,” is infectiously catchy and driving. Lead singer Chase Lawrence consistently delivers his lyrics with nonchalance and charisma while maintaining an impressive endurance. In fact, some of these songs sound exhausting. The album’s 44 minutes are, more often than not, very energetic. At their best, the songs on this album are fun; however, as the record pans out, it turns out to be nothing more.
The failings of this album come from its want for substance. The spacious, synth-laden arrangements backed by driving drum kit rhythms account for far too much runtime. Every once in awhile, the bass line or rhythm guitar settles into the mix underneath Lawrence’s vocals and it feels very right — it convinces the listener they’re listening to a real band, made up of artists with vision and creativity. These moments are the exception to the rule. For the majority of the 14 tracks, you’re either being spoon-fed a shouted, sing-along chorus or drifting through a somewhat empty instrumental section building up to nothing.
This is an album that, unlike Coin’s previous work, doesn’t slow down long enough to truly hook you in—at least not thematically. There are more relaxed cuts, such as “Babe Ruth,” but they merely serve to fill the space between the album’s singles, which seem to be the only songs that have been fleshed out beyond the minimum requirements. Looking back at songs such as “Malibu 1992,” one has to question why nothing on “Dreamland” has any soul at all to it. Nothing strives so far as to be memorable; Coin is on autopilot on this album.
This album will, no doubt, satiate the fraction of listeners who crave the vapid, upbeat pop rock it features. There aren’t any true missteps on this record, albeit only because there are few steps taken in any direction at all. Coin fans will enjoy the third helping of slight alterations made on the formula which gave their breakout hit “Talk Too Much” such a wide appeal. A part of me mourns the potential for depth they displayed on their previous album, but a greater part of me can’t help but feel as though this was a foregone conclusion.