This ‘Funeral Advantage’ article was written by Ailsa McEwan, a GIGsoup contributor
There is a certain charm that can only be found in the hazy, reverb-drenched languor of a good dream pop record and Funeral Advantage’s debut LP, Body Is Dead is the latest of these gems. Initially the solo project of Boston’s Tyler Kershaw, the now five piece band fit comfortably alongside their peers, Wild Nothing and Beach House. The only problem is, they fit a little too comfortably. The landscape of dream pop is an overcrowded one and in order to avoid falling into the void of indistinguishable like-minded bands, Funeral Advantage need to bring something fresh and exciting to the table. Body Is Dead fails to do so but is a gratifying listen nonetheless.
With Kershaw adopting a less gloom, more pop approach, the album is something of a departure from 2013’s Demo. Opener Equine boasts sweet, if a little subdued, vocals juxtaposed by a powerful chorus which acts as a reminder that beneath the disguise of Kershaw’s spaced out vocals and copious amounts of reverb, Funeral Advantage are very much a pop band at heart.
From the delicate chiming guitars of Gardensong to the rhythmic bass of You Sat Alone, each track merges seamlessly into the next, making the album a little samey but highly addictive even so. Although considerably less sombre than their previous work, even the most up-beat moments of Body Is Dead seem to be accompanied by shades of melancholia, pangs of angst and a wistfulness all too familiar to dream pop. Beneath the airy synths and jangly Smiths-esque guitars, dark undertones can be detected in the rare instances that we catch a snippet of Kershaw’s lyrics. You’ve broken my mirror he broods over lulling guitars in the oddly comforting Sisters.
You could be forgiven for mistakenly perceiving Kershaw as something of an emo, however the wryly titled Cemetery Kiss, and of course a band name as unapologetically bleak as Funeral Advantage, indicate he is perhaps poking fun at the dream pop-lovelorn-recluse stereotype so often associated with men in his field of music. Either that or he gladly and unashamedly fits this mould.
Whilst his lethargic, spaced out vocals – another trademark of dream pop – undoubtedly play a crucial part in giving the album its dreamlike feel, they can at times be frustrating as often Kershaw’s lyrics become lost in the process. Arguably, this is of little importance as the voice becomes more of an instrument than anything else when it comes to much of the music in this genre, but the likes of other acts such as Wild Nothing go to show just how nicely strong lyricism can enhance what is already there.
It would be interesting to see Funeral Advantage come out of their comfort zone and prove themselves as diverse and inventive musicians, because whilst Body Is Dead is the perfect formula for a great dream pop record, the one thing it lacks is originality. It is a good, solid debut but is hopefully just a stepping stone to much greater things to come.