Album Review: Doldrums - The Air Conditioned Nightmare

A slightly more subdued affair, though there’s plenty of melodies within the chaos.

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Back in January, Doldrums’ Airick Woodhead informed DIY that his new album is about “fear”. With titles like ‘The Air Conditioned Nightmare’, ‘Funeral For Lightning’ and ‘Industry City’, it would be hard to argue against Woodhead’s comment sounding something like the bleak fictional world David Lynch created in Eraserhead. By good fortune, these impressions are only hoodwinks.

As an extension to previous album ‘Lesser Evil’, ‘The Air Conditioned Nightmare’ is a slightly more subdued affair, though there’s plenty of melodies within the chaos. ‘Funeral For Lightning’ and ‘We Awake’ hold a sombre quality, though the latter is set apart by a noticeable club bounce. Doldrums’ origins as a live-DJ experience are echoed through ‘My Friend Simjen’, by embracing the dance floor with hyperactive beats.

Opener ‘HOTFOOT’ explores the tension between the outer and inner world, with stabbing beats threatening Woodhead’s desire to go “down deep into the mud.” Beneath the popcorn-beats and energy of ‘Loops’ is a man yearning for love, proving that the album is less complex than originally perceived. ‘Industry City’s squelching synth melody drives the song towards a pop refrain, proving Woodhead isn’t shy of pushing his creation to its absolute limit.

For an album beset by “paranoid sentiment and Dystopian imagery,” ‘The Air Conditioned Nightmare’ turns out to be more melodic than it is morose. There’s shoots of recovery peeking below the surface, as ‘Closer 2 U’ finishes the album with an ambient lullaby: “How can I be nostalgic for something I never had?”, he asks, seemingly at an endpoint with his previous unease. Nestled in these adrenalised, highly evolved songs are bright pop hooks, showing that other artists could compete with Doldrums, but they wouldn’t be able to keep up. Take the red pill and enter down the rabbit hole.

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