Waves break on the beach just after nightfall. The city flickers on behind you and stars start to come into focus. Water rushes past your ankles. You wonder where the night will take you, how you ended up here… this must be the place.
“Touch”, the opening track from Alice Ivy’s debut album, I’m Dreaming, sets the scene and pulls listeners into a newly formed world. It’s a place with good friends, strong drinks, and the kind of warm-hearted spectacle that one hopes for every night they hit the town. It’s a familiar space, and Ivy’s clean, but freckled production lends a familiarity to the landscape.
The Melbourne, Australia-residing artist’s influences are clear from the beginning. She moves her way through intricate layered dance, hip hop, and pop, weaving them together with various talking samples, instantly reminding listeners of The Avalanches. That Aussie group’s seminal debut has a clear influence on I’m Dreaming. Good vibes, friendship, past love, it’s all here, but in a more fluid environment.
Unlike the pioneering Avalanches, Ivy is not brash. She makes everything seem easy. Flashes of funk and warm brass blend with cool electronics and listeners are quickly swept away into this not-too-distant dreamscape. There is no “Frontier Psychiatrist”, instead listeners are treated to instant dancefloor hits like “Get Me a Drink”.
All of I’m Dreaming comes off as natural. She isn’t playing toward record executives’ desires to invade the mindless nights of youth culture. Rather, the moments explored are ones experienced. There is no selling, no pandering. The desires are pure, the wonder honest.
The purely experienced moment is something artists continue to chase. And in today’s culture, that has led to some rather false feeling material. That’s not the case here. The record crackle at the beginning of “Bella” drills up memories of simpler times, and the additional layers are intricate and distinct. A distant voice wonders over the waves, “Does that take you back?” and a soul-filled sample repeats overtop as horns give warmth to the track.
There is a rawness to I’m Dreaming. That’s partly due to the indie rap spirit that finds its way onto tracks like “Be Friends” and “Almost Here”, and that’s what makes the album unique. Rather than over polishing and trying to shine every imperfection away, Ivy uses those blemishes to remind listeners of moments they and she have experienced.
There is no perfect memory, but we can either choose to have a fondness for our experiences or contempt. The ability to color ones present with learned experience brings warmth to even those less than ideal moments. This is exactly what Alice Ivy does on I’m Dreaming. She creates a world with all the familiar moments of our past and present and brings forward the good without whitewashing the bad.
I’m Dreaming is warm, smooth, and the ideal soundtrack for a night with friends on the town or listen to it alone just for memory sake.
HURRY – LISTEN – ALICE IVY