EP review: CUSTARD DREAM – Blue Wave

3MS [release date: 17.12.21]

Custard Dream is Ryan Davies, a young man who’s written, produced and performed everything you hear on this 6 track EP, Blue Wave.

The label, 3MS, could be stylised as the gambler who likes to take a punt on the outsiders, with the utmost confidence that one or more of the bands he’s backing will soon break through.

There are perhaps a few more mainstream bands on the label now, like Saints Of Sin and High Treason, but this one man band could be the one.

Davies’s signature sound is hard to pin down. The melancholy tones and slender tune of opener ‘Asteroid’ are guided by chirping rhythms, and glassy synths, punctuated by a resounding programmed bass line. It all suggests that Davies’s musical inspiration is drawn mainly from the Synth/New Wave bands of the eighties, like Tears For Fears or OMD.

Subsequent tracks are much more interesting. ‘Back In The Room’ and ‘Ocarina Vice’ riff off that whole Wang Chung/ Hall & Oates blue eyed soul vibe that peaked in the mid eighties.

But it’s probably ‘Mastermind Champion’ that works best. If only for the way in which the processed vocals and distorted keys lead ultimately to the sparkling pop immediacy of the hook, and one of the best lines of lyrics you’ll hear this year – “I’m the Mastermind champion, and you’re my speciality, but it’s like I’m playing Guess Who indefinitely”. Make of that what you will.

The EP closes with a synth rock interpretation of Led Zeppelin’s ‘When The Levee Breaks’. Yes, it sucks out the blues, but it fills the void with satisfying synth soul. It works surprisingly well.

Ryan Davies, aka Custard Dream. Two names to watch. ***1/2

Review by Brian McGowan

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