Despite borrowing their name from a platinum 1979 Cheap Trick record, Dream Police have little in common with the power poppers. The two sound like they could have been making records in the same year, as Hypnotized evokes the electronic proto-punk of Suicide in the ’70s. Though the dynamic between Alan Vega and Martin Rev is a clear inspiration, it wouldn’t be like the cofounders of Brooklyn rock institution The Men to make an album that obvious or straightforward. Mike Perro and Nick Chiericozzi’s debut full-length as Dream Police not only smatters together alt-country and psychedelic rock ‘n’ roll, but takes hints from ’80s synth-pop as well.
On Hypnotized, Dream Police carve out a barren, ominous landscape that travels from the Wild West to outer space to a dilapidated church pew. Perro and Chiericozzi bring in collaborator Kyle Keays-Hagerman to help, using a Roland 707 drum machine and a Juno 106 synthesizer to accompany hammering, feedback-laden guitars and thunderous vocals. The latter’s best moment can be found on “My Mama’s Dead,” which booms with winding pedal effects and crunchy riffs. Classic country à la Open Your Heart-era the Men is most audible on “John,” where echoing, blues-infused arpeggios rise and fall with a wiry guitar solo dropping in at the last minute. Intergalactic instrumental “Let It Be” clocks in at nearly seven minutes but doesn’t get tiresome. Clean, buoyant synth loops wash over a durable drum beat, with sporadic chord progressions and shredding mini-solos making the whole track feel a bit like a jam session.
The outlier of Hypnotized is the closer, “Sandy,” which features Juniper Rising‘s Holly Overton in duet with Chiericozzi. Resounding church bells land on the hum of an organ, only to retreat and hand the reins over to an acoustic ballad that’s eerily gorgeous in its simplicity. Overton’s folky twang brings the band’s affinity for Americana to the fore and complements Chiericozzi’s rugged baritone. “Tonight I don’t feel like singin’,” the two plead over sparse finger-picking. Such a weary refrain seems fitting after a string of songs packed to the brim with ideas and carried by only two or three people. At the rate that Perro and Chiericozzi operate, though, it’s safe to say it won’t be long before they’re singing again.