Review

Buried Treasure: Dreamcatcher – Starlight

Dreamcatcher - StarlightA K-pop act’s title track isn’t always the best song on their album, even if it’s the one most people will hear. Sometimes, b-sides deserve recognition too. In the singles-oriented world of K-pop, I want to spotlight some of these buried treasures and give them the props they deserve.


I’m so curious to know what longtime Dreamcatcher fans think of their new album. It’s definitely a shift in sound for the group, opting for less guitar and more electronic dance pop. I quite like it, but I’m predisposed to enjoying this style. Tracks like Together and Cherry have great, upbeat energy and the ballads are also pretty strong this time around (Always has a gorgeous melody). But Starlight — the group’s take on synthwave – is deservedly stealing most attention.

As you’ve probably realized by now, I tend to love Dreamcatcher’s electronic b-sides the best. Songs like Poison Love and Silent Night have become staples on my playlist. I’m not sure Starlight is as cool as either of those tracks, but it comes very close. It’s a straightforward affair, cruising on a tautly-composed melody that never loses focus. For me, synthwave needs this constant momentum – the feeling of running through a city tunnel at night as neon lights reflect off puddles. K-pop makes a mistake when it fuses this genre to existing structures, treating it as a vibe rather than an energy.

Starlight is beautifully performed, as we’ve come to expect from Dreamcatcher. It lacks an easily identifiable climax, preferring to work its way under your skin rather than knock you off your feet. Again, I think this compliments the charms of synthwave. It’s my favorite point on a very solid album and with any luck will be chosen as a follow-up single for promotions. We need a retro-future music video for this one!

 Hooks 9
 Production 9
 Longevity 9
 Bias 9
 RATING 9

33 thoughts on “Buried Treasure: Dreamcatcher – Starlight

  1. I’ll admit that I was a little sad we didn’t get a Wind Blows or Break The Wall type track this time around but the album was still stupidly solid. Probably my favorite full of the year so far.

    Liked by 2 people

    • YEAH same, I was hoping for another standout song like wind blows 😭😭

      beauty full was good catchy diet pop punk, but it’s still ultimately beholden to the tropes of its genre rip

      Like

      • omg sorry for the double (triple) replies, I refreshed the page multiple times and the first one didn’t show up, so i retyped it. Is it possible for one of my replies here to be deleted?

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    • YEAH SAME, i was hoping for a wind blows-esque bside in this album (irt: my standout fave that incorporates various genres).

      Otherwise, Beauty Full’s my other favourite from the album, though it’s still diet pop punk that sounds like every other 00s song lmao. it really is a solid album!

      Like

  2. I like this album a lot. But of course I do. I still prefer Road to Utopia and Tree of Language, but this is not too far behind.

    Of course you were gonna pick this one, and of course I 100% agree with your pick. Starlight grabbed me at once. Like I love Maison, but I really, really love Starlight. I agree that Cherry and Together are also great, and I also really enjoy Locked Inside A Door, but I’m a sucker for jazz/swing and love that they fused their guitars to it.

    I *do* wish they had rearranged the second half of the album a bit, because as much as I love Siyeon, Handong, and Yoohyeon, three consecutive downtempo tracks is a bit much and causes it to sag. Or I wish they’d given Siyeon a more rock song. But I understand the ordering, and taking this more as a collection of songs/showcase, I guess it’s fine.

    I have a soft spot for Beauty Full. That is the sound of my teenage years, right there. It’s basically tied with Starlight for first. Maison is not far behind those two, it’s a really, really good track that I see aging really well.

    (Also. Lmao at No Dot. I really don’t know how I feel. I normally don’t like this kind of music, but I love Sua and the bridge is great.)

    Thanks for this great writeup, at any rate. You nailed it when you mentioned what makes synthwave great. Momentum, momentum, momentum!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m surprised to see Starlight get such a high score, even though I enjoyed it a lot haha, but it’s insightful to read about your thoughts of the song!

    I didn’t think about it, but Starlight DOES lack a catchy climax 🤔 I prefer memorable moments and choruses to ~ vibes ~ so this might explain why I’m not as in love with this b-side as something like black or white. thanks for the review!

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  4. I really like the album but another rock rock track would have been nice. Siyeon’s song gives me a power/folk/celtic/symphonic metal vibes, i wish they would have gone exactly there but, hey, i get what they were trying to do. I guess all the girls wanted to show us something different, like a written letter to us. I love love Maison but i’m in love with Starlight. That 9 is so solid for me…i just wish it was longer the song, then it would be a 10.
    Love Cherry, Together, No dot, always. I’m not a fan of jazzy pop so Yoo’s song is not for me. I always admire their performances though.

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  5. I really like the album but another rock rock track would have been nice. Siyeon’s song gives me a power/folk/celtic/symphonic metal vibes, i wish they would have gone exactly there but, hey, i get what they were trying to do. I guess all the girls wanted to show us something different, like a written letter to us. I love love Maison but i’m in love with Starlight. That 9 is so solid for me…i just wish it was longer the song, then it would be a 10.
    Love Cherry, Together, No dot, always. I’m not a fan of jazzy pop so Yoo’s song is not for me. I always admire their performances though.

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  6. I really think this album is a showcase to LEEZ and Ollounder’s versatility more than Dreamcatcher’s. Together sound exactly like a WJSN b-side. I fully expect to see Full8loom attached to the song credit, when it actually is composed by the usual collaborators. Cherry could easily be a LOONA OEC single too. This album is easily my favorite so far this year. Solid all the way. I know it’s quite a mixed bag of genres (especially the solo songs), but that just means there’s something for everyone.
    The solo songs also highlighted every member’s charm and I loved it very much. (the Chinese lyrics at the outro of Handong’s song is a really nice and sweet touch, it gets me every time. It just puts a layer of personality to a somewhat generic song) I don’t really see people talk about Yoohyeon’s song, I adore it very much. It feels silky smooth and just drowning in nostalgic feelings. My least favorite song is probably Sua’s No Dot. It just sounds like Dreamcatcher does Everglow.

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    • I’m not a fan of jazzy songs but Yoohyeon’s voice and performance make every song a good one. I’m so glad you are loving it. Yoo is so talented!

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      • Her vocal and performance absolutely carried the whole song. I was so into the song and the vibes, I didn’t even realize that the lyrics are mostly English until my fourth or fifth listen.

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  7. OT: I just saw the Wikipedia page for Andrew Choi, apparently he has passed away. No link was provided, and I cannot find anyone else talking about it. I hope it is not true, Choi is/was not that old, and very talented. Didn’t he just work on U-Know’s most recent EP?

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  8. Favorites (in order): Skit: The Seven Doors, Starlight, Locked Inside a Door, Cherry, Beauty Full

    ===Track-by-track===
    1) They have catchier intros in my opinion. Tried to capture too many styles in one?

    2) Locked Inside a Door is catchy. I love hearing Leez&Ollounder expanding on jazz.

    3) Maison has a great riff. I find the lyrics/themes a bit… heavy-handed for me? And the melodies got tiring faster than with their other tracks. I dunno. I don’t see myself revisiting it too much.

    4) Starlight is probably my favorite synth work of theirs since Silent Night.

    5) “Together” sounded like anything any other group could have released; Iz*one-esque. Echo-y club beats and meandering chorus melodies. Not my thing.

    6) I haven’t really enjoyed any Dreamcatcher ballads since the first two (Emotion + Lullaby), but this one was a bit pace-ier than the previous ones at least.

    7) The Seven Doors is straight out of the game Va11 Hall-A. A great way to kick off from the group to the solo stuff. Takes a while to get going, but it’s one of the most exciting songs I’ve heard in a while.

    8) I really like the sassy vibes Jiu is getting layered on top of her baseline sweetness. Also finally someone does faster disco!

    9) “No Dot” is… not particularly better-sounding to me than when Everglow, 4minute, etc. were doing similar sounds. I think they chose this style partly so Sua could showcase her dancing, and I don’t begrudge that.

    10) Siyeon’s solo lacked a really standout moment, but was beautifully performed and evocative. I liked the time signature.

    11) ^^^same as above for Handong. I do wish her solo could have been slightly lower.

    12) Yoohyeon performed and pronounced her solo beautifully. I found it a bit saccharine as wintery material goes—personally would have preferred something a bit catchier (I heard the bells on christmas day), more hymn-like (carol of the bells), or with harder rhythms (god rest ye merry gentlemen.)

    13) I love how Dami is becoming the go-to vehicle for a song or style that’s a bit outside the Dreamcatcher wheelhouse. She feels to me like the most experimental member. Also her voice is surprisingly versatile? It fit this song like a glove, and also fit the bridge of “Jazz Bar” super well.

    14) Gahyeon’s solo sounds straight out of an indie pop-rock musical; it has “Waitress” vibes. But a bit more experimental instrumentally. I dig it!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I’ve been a fan of Dreamcatcher pretty much since the beginning (2018!), and I loved them immediately seeing as I’ve always enjoyed pop music and rock music. For years now I have always enjoyed their blend of the two genres.

    I enjoy artists like Babymetal and Poppy who experiment with blending harder rock/metal sounds with more traditional/exaggerated pop sounds. I know at least a few of the members have stated they are inspired by Babymetal too, and seeing as there is quite a bit of overlap in their music, I was not surprised at all when they were an instant hit for me.

    I think these two genres mesh surprisingly really well together and as time has gone on Dreamcatcher has been experimenting with mixing rock with other types of pop music (like edm, electro-pop, synth-pop, etc.) more and more, and I think it’s great! They’ve been experimenting with other styles/genres of rock as well, which is enough for me.

    Don’t get me wrong, I beyond enjoy and will always welcome more songs like Good Night, What, You and I, No More, My Toys, Endless Night, etc. from DC, but I will never turn away a great pop song. Or a good song in general. (Although it is my dream for them to release something as intense and crazy as something like Babymetal’s “PA PA YA!!” or Poppy’s “Concrete”, “Khaos x4”, or especially “If It Bleeds”) As long as they don’t completely abandon the guitar-focused rock element and keep finding new ways to play around with incorporating it in their songs I think I’ll always enjoy their music tbh.

    Part of that is just because of their voices and performances in their songs too. I think Siyeon/Sua/Yoohyeon have such a great grasp on how to effectively sing rock songs and the group utilizes their voices so well.

    With all that being said I think Dreamcatcher still sounds fresh and amazing and this album was awesome! I have had it on repeat ever since it came out and I was beyond pleasantly surprised with it. I think the title track is great (tho not my favorite, Scream is still my Queen), but still a bit on the weaker side of their title tracks, maybe in the middle. But the b-sides make up for it. This album is overall yet another strong addition to their already outstanding discography.

    TL;DR: I love pop music and rock/metal music and love to see how the two can be combined in so many different ways. As long as Dreamcatcher continue to incorporate rock/guitar into their songs I will probably always be a fan of their work because I like pop music and the girls’ voices. This new album slaps and has a little something for everyone. Though it is still my dream for them to do a song along the lines of any of the following:
    Babymetal’s “PA PA YA!!” – ‘https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oO7Y8NsnkRg’
    Poppy’s “Concrete” – ‘https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WwoGhpYdebQ’
    Poppy’s “If It Bleeds” – ‘https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xnLPqleIYP0’

    Sorry for the essay lol

    Liked by 2 people

  10. This whole album has been on loop since release, definitely worth the wait. I agree with the comment that the Siyeon > Handong > Yoohyeon tracks should be broken up due to highly similar melodic structure (albeit different genre), but I can understand that they’re following the members’ age in arrangement.

    For me, it is difficult to identify a weak solo tracks in this album (even though I don’t like the general style for songs like “No Dot”, SuA’s interpretation is captivating enough to hold my attention). But I am particularly attracted to JiU’s, Yoohyeon’s & surprisingly Gahyeon’s.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. I immediately knew this would be my fave from the album.

    My Top 5 would be:

    1. Starlight [9,9,9,10] = 9.25/10
    2. Beauty Full [9,9,9,9] = 9/10
    3. Maison [8,9,9,9] = 8.75/10
    4. Together [8,9,8,9] = 8.5/10
    5. Cherry [8,9,8,8] = 8.25/10

    I wish ‘No Dot’ followed through with its epic outro. That song could have stolen my top spot if it went down the psytrance route.

    ‘Skit: The seven doors’ is also a cool track.

    Overall, super solid album.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I always get so frustrated with Dreamcatcher and it’s because they never have a bad song in them but the potential squandered is astronomical. Songs like Dami and Siyeon’s solos prove they can knock out the rock sound in their sleep today but they still try and fuck with the formula with lesser trends and so on but they’re never bad so you can see why question mark? So yes Starlight is a good song. Good not great. Heard a lot like it this year alone. Like this album. Plus it like most full lengths has a bad case of the bloats.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. DC being my ult group, i am a little sad that this album is less metal/rock than earlier material, however much i like this album on the whole.

    I am not against them shifting towards electronic and dance pop, (as i love those genres as well!) but in recent releases Leez/Ollounder have played it more or less safe. I have a feeling a more experimental sound in that direction would just give us another WJSN/Everglow instead of going all-in psytrance or even metal + psytrance?? In conclusion, I’ve still not had enough of metal DC 😀

    PS: Symphonic/operatic metal would be AWESOME *manifesting* Given how the promoted single angled in this direction, it may not be too much to hope for?

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  14. Super solid album! I definitely don’t mind DC leaning into electronic/dance pop, though of course I don’t want them to abandon rock. Favourite B-sides were Locked Inside a Door, Starlight, Together, Skit, Cherry, and Beauty Full, and I still love Maison.

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  15. I’ve been a dreamcatcher fan since they were minx. I really like their new album. It’s goes down easier than the first Korean one and doesn’t have any tracks we’ve heard before which helps. For about a month I would listen to the first album on to different classes, but I really haven’t returned to any of those tracks since.

    My favorite tracks from this album are together, Maison, the skit, and the solos from yoohyeon and Dami.

    starlight is nice while it’s playing but I have no desire to just play it on its own

    Like

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