Having knocked the rust off and avoided the dreaded sophomore slump that so many bands seem to struggle with, COIN have returned with their third album called Dreamland. A reasonably straight-forward record that likely won’t dissuade longtime fans of the band from staying true to the group, but also one that doesn’t stray too far from what the band has already tried so they may have a difficult time gaining a wider audience. There are a few nuances and improvements to COIN’s sound that make it hard to fault them for continuing with a successful formula, such as dream-pop elements filled with lush synths and breezy guitars. As much as I enjoy listening to this band and this record, it feels like it lacks some of the energy and urgency that made their second record How Will You Know If You Never Try so endearing. The familiar sounds and stylistic choices feel welcoming at first. Still, by the time you get to the conclusion of the record, you’re left with a feeling of a small missed opportunity to take advantage of the momentum gained from their breakthrough second album.
The album opener and current single, “Into My Arms,” starts with some programmed drums, breezy guitars, and cozy vocals courtesy of front-man Chase Lawrence. Lawrence sings confidently on the chorus, “It’s almost dark now / And the city’s so loud / Your voice is the only sound / Get out, get out of my head / Out of my head and into my arms.” The song itself serves as a cautious reminder of the sound that COIN has made a name for themselves over the past few years that many other bands are trying to emulate in the crowded synth-rock scene. If you were to put this song in a mix between groups such as Lovelytheband, Foster the People, and Two Door Cinema Club, you might have a tough time deciphering exactly which band had ownership over it.
“I Want It All” mixes things up a little bit with a beachy piano-driven song with the casual chorus of, “I want it all / I’ve got this lovesick feeling / But there’s nothing like it / Nothing at all / I know your heart’s still beating / And I want it all, I want it all / Or nothing at all.” Still, nothing to set the song apart from what the band has accomplished on their previous work, but a solid song nonetheless.
Other early songs such as “Simple Romance” feature a cool bass line courtesy of Joe Memmel, who played both lead guitar and bass since Zachary Dyke left the band in 2018, and he seems up to the task of doing double duty. The track brings more of the winning formula back into the forefront even if the first two singles didn’t change things up too much. “Crash My Car” is another track that has a great build-up to a catchy chorus and ended up being one of my favorite songs from the entire album. I liked the way Lawrence stretched his vocal range on this track, and it made the song stand out from the pack.
“Cemetery” is another single released before the album saw the light of day, and for a good reason, as it turns out to be one of the more unique songs on the LP. The track fits the mold of the other songs on the record that seems to be overflowing with tracks perfect for that summertime drive to the beach.
The back half of the album starts on a similar footing with “Youuu” and “Valentine,” leading the charge out of the gate. COIN seems to be pleased to let the record ride out with a similar momentum as the opening tracks, but at this point in the listening experience, all of the songs have a hard time of standing apart.
Things improve slightly on “Nobody’s Baby,” a song that is filled with more synths, confidently strummed guitars and the trademark croon of Lawrence. “Never Change” seems to be the overall mantra for the band, as they seem hesitant to try out too many newer sounds or tempos to break up some of the monotony. Throwing in their reoccurring trilogy of a song in “Lately III” doesn’t help things as much since it still gives the record too much familiarity and not enough personality.
Overall, I came away from this album a tad disappointed since I felt like COIN had much more to share with the world on their third record. The all-too-familiar sounds and song structures seem to be doing them a disservice at this point in their artistic career since there aren’t enough newer elements to keep fans engaged and interested in what they come up with next. This type of “safe” approach may work for sustaining COIN’s success in the short-term, but I’d still like for them to expand upon their sound in their subsequent records.