While I’ve enjoyed everything Dreamcatcher have released so far, my absolute favorite tracks were never promoted. I love when the group meshes their J-rock style with unexpected elements, like the psy-trance of last year’s Silent Night or the hard-hitting electro of 2017’s Sleep-Walking. For years now, I’ve longed for a Dreamcatcher title track that shares these sensibilities. With Scream, the girls have finally delivered. During a month where most groups have settled for trendy, uninspiring fare, this song is a beacon of creativity.
I’m not much of a metalhead, but I do love the symphonic rock of Finnish group Nightwish. Like that group’s music, Scream is bolstered by a theatricality that tempers its heaviness. It feels like Dreamcatcher’s most fully-realized blend of rock and K-pop yet. Scream accomplishes this by twisting a familiar structure with left-field instrumental touches and arrangements. Its chorus is largely wordless and melody-free, but rather than succumb to the overused EDM-drop-as-hook, Scream wallops the listener with a galvanizing mix of heavy guitar and synth strings. It’s not unlike Stray Kids’ Side Effects from last year, though Dreamcatcher follow a much more traditional template.
At this point, I feel like I should offer a deep bow to producers LEEZ and Ollounder. These past few months have been very lackluster and repetitive in the K-pop world, but their productions have stood as 2020’s biggest highlights so far. They zig when everyone else zags, and that’s exactly what the industry needs right now. Like their work with ATEEZ, Scream has a larger-than-life sense of drama to it, heightened by Dreamcatcher’s explosive performance. It doesn’t lag for one moment. Even when the track plunges into the dreaded post-chorus breakdown (easily my least favorite segment of any modern K-pop song), the tempo shift is saved by crunchy guitar. Wailing, rock opera ad-libs pepper the instrumental chorus, adding a jolt of cinematic energy just as the percussion hits with renewed fury. It’s a thrilling mix, and helps to anchor the group’s most instant, ambitious single yet.
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