REVIEW: Tram Cops - Even In My Dreams

Raquel Dalarossa

When we think of bedroom pop, we often think of music that feels isolated—from collaborators, from resources, from external influence. It’s bare bones from being homemade, and it’s intimate from being so inward-looking. But for Tram Cops, bedroom pop doesn’t have to be confined to one’s own four walls in order to feel cozy, vulnerable, and genuine.

Tram Cops is firmly a personal project, led by Melbourne-based musician Michael Vince Moin, but for his first full-length release under the moniker, Moin called on a whole slew of friends to contribute. Released earlier this year, Even In My Dreams is bedroom pop with world-traveling ambitions, a dusty, lo-fi affair that plays like a breath of fresh air. Where many bedroom pop records might sound lonely, this one sounds restless and playful, exuding a curiosity that takes it down a lot of different roads without losing its identity.

The opening track, heavily bossa nova influenced, sets the tone for the gentle and gently danceable record. “Why’d She Have to Leave So Soon,” with its rhythmic guitar, faraway piano, saxophone solo, and lyrics full of saudade to top it all off, is a bona fide homage to the Brazilian export. The “world music” bent becomes a central touchpoint in the album; “stolen land,” for example, subtly juxtaposes Eastern elements like a sitar and hand drumming with space-age electronic effects for something that feels, simply put, fun.

The approach calls to mind an act like Beirut, especially in the title track, with its aching trumpet and retro drum-machine beat. And although the musical pastiche can get kitschy, there’s also an honesty and a heart that emanates from the willingness to abide by any and all flairs of inspiration. “thought about suicide” is a great example of how Moin can bring a lot of elements together with thoughtful intent. At first, the song feels like a sort of emotionally removed daze, but it veers for a moment into a juxtaposition of screechy, raw feedback with smooth tenor sax, amplifying acutely conflicted feelings.

The album’s closing track, “believe,” gives us a classic bit of lo-fi pop, almost as though we’ve landed squarely, but softly, in Moin’s actual bedroom, after spending the afternoon flipping through postcards from his mind. Even In My Dreams is an interesting adventure, both thrilling and vaguely comforting at the same time, calling us back for another ride as soon as it’s done.