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Album Reviews

Review: Valencia – Dancing With a Ghost

Valencia – Dancing With a Ghost

Released: October 12, 2010
Label: I Surrender Records
Purchase: iTunes | Amazon

Every night, as we are about to lazily drift off to a wonderful place known as sleep, most of us go into a deep state of thinking. Whether it be about what we’re going to do the next day, a contemplation of life, or just why our room smells so bad, we all think about something leading up to that glorious state of unconsciousness. These things may or may not affect the way that we dream. Dreams can be anything from happy, to dark, to just bizarre (or all of the above!) and as we listen through the third album by the five-piece alternative/pop-punk group, Valencia, titled Dancing With a Ghost, it can somewhat be comparative to the different stages and/or types of dreaming.

As the album opens with the light, poppy guitars and sing-along vocals leading into the first few tracks, we are submerged in a blissful state of a fun and happy dreaming (“Dancing With a Ghost” and “Still Need You Around”). As frontman Shane Henderson sings along to the spirited guitar riffs of Brendan Walter, JD Perry, and George Ciukurescu and the delicate drums of Daniel Pawlovich, Henderson remits an uplifting message. We, as the listeners, will find ourselves floating along jubilantly through the sunny dream world, not a care in the world.

But as we are all familiar with, dreams aren’t always such a playful environment and constantly change as we sleep so soundly in our beds. As Dancing goes on, our sunny dream world slowly shifts to a bit more serious atmosphere as we slowly realize that everything is not as happy as we originally had thought (“Consider Me Dead” and “Losing Sleep”). The scenery changes to a still pleasant, but slightly bizarre world. As Henderson exclaims “Give me the chance to speak my mind/My opinions are the social kind/If it’s you for you and I for I/Then one of us will leave here blind/You know I won’t give up without a fight/Even if I’m the one who’s wrong and you’re who’s right” leading the way accompanied by spacey guitars, troubles begin to surmount in the dream, setting the stage for an unwanted antagonist to arrive.

Then, suddenly, the effervescent world is crudely interrupted entirely by the deeper problems hidden in our subconscious and the dream becomes a dark, perplexing place; the previously whimsical feeling is almost entirely gone, replaced with a worried uncertainty as the music becomes increasingly frantic in our minds (“Friday Night”). Storms sweep in in the form of sadistic guitar tones and dark lyrics (“When desperate we collide and disappear in fear/We’ve been living in a dream/Selfishly, I try to blur the lines that hide that I/I guess I fucked up/I guess I was wrong”), and pounding drums coupled with the thunder of the guitars begin to interfere with the previously bright sunlight that was shining so beautifully and as suddenly as the storms had appeared, they subside.

We are now left feeling lost, and somewhat alone (“Somewhere I Belong”). The words “My life has always been a dead end street/with heavy eyes that shoot through me/I slipped somewhere in between what’s right and wrong” ring through the light gray clouds backed by an arrangement of strings, and we start to question what just happened, why it happened, and if things will go back to the way they were before. But at this point, we can’t even remember what was so happy about the dream in the first place. Perplexity sets in once again, and we begin to question whether our dream is reality or in fact a dream. The pace of the music begins to increase and this state of confusion leaves us in a very odd, yet somehow pleasing mood as delightful guitar-work reveals a certain hope as they back the worried lyrics (“Days Go By” and “The Way”).

Abruptly the dream changes once again. Making a quick transition from spaciness and confusion, to a more familiar pop-punk driven urgency, we finally realize what we have to do to get back to the once-happy world that is slowly fading from our memories (“Stop Searching”). As we come to a certain light, the dream starts collapsing around us as we begin to finally awaken. We know what we want, but everything is becoming so blurred around us, and as our happy place is nearly in reach once again, the dream ends. We are awake with nothing but a vague memory of a long journey of happiness, struggle, and emotion that we long to see again. Luckily, in the case of Dancing With a Ghost, we can revisit this dream whenever we please, and admire its brilliance and intricacy with the same enjoyment each and every time.

8.5

Standout Tracks: “The Way,” “Friday Night,” “Losing Sleep”

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