A new wave of music is ready – or almost ready – to again throw a spotlight on the ever-productive epicentre of new music that is Manchester. One of the first acts to make their (expected) mark is dream-pop quartet Patterns, four Manchester University students (none of whom are actually from Manchester) that are currently dabbling in other projects as well as the band itself.
Patterns are certainly not like the meat and potatoes, rough and ready backstreet sorts that are called to mind when certain Manchester bands are mentioned. They are thinkers, rather than raw instrument wielders with a gripe against society. The band have described their sound as being music that explores the subconscious state of mind between sleeping and waking, the hallucinatory place where dreams and reality meld into one, and this comes through clearly in the music as they attempt to craft this state into sound.
This Haze opens the album and immediately places the listener into this ethereal world; the track meets its intentions as shimmering, glittery guitars manage to recreate that familiar feeling of first drifting off to sleep, sounding something like the Delays doing shoegaze. By all accounts, Waking Lines has been created as a full listening experience and this is telling by the lack of individual tracks that stand up on their own merits. One of the few to buck the trend and provide a stunning highlight, Blood, shows where Patterns could really make their mark: a simple yet catchy guitar riff bursts through the glistening textures and a soaring chorus aims for heights that The Boxer Rebellion frequently scale.
Unfortunately there is a lack of variety, and whilst this may be the intention, the longevity of the album will undoubtedly suffer as a result. Choruses continuously plough an uninspiring repetition, like on Broken Trains for example: some exciting drums almost rescue the track but ultimately this train derails, rather than arriving at its destination. Street Fires is again pleasant enough on the outside but burns itself out with a lack of substance beneath the glistening exterior, just more, plain sounding chorus repetition. If the choruses soared in the same vein as Blood then repetition would be welcomed, but to chug away at something mediocre becomes a little tedious.
There are other highlights to be found, most notably the title track with sparkling, tinny guitars twinkling like stars in the night sky, helping to create the desired dreamlike consciousness and sending nerves tingling in the process. Another is Our Ego, where an echoey soundscape forms before drums slowly build from a distant starting point, but this is where things could have become great rather than just good. It’s almost as if the band are unsure of where they want to place themselves – they manage to create the dreamy atmospherics well enough, but they neither focus on writing strong catchy hooks or milk the repetition aspect. Our Ego for one could certainly have benefited from becoming a double-the-length shimmering dronefest.
By the time album closer Climbing Out chimes itself to an average conclusion there is a distinct possibility that boredom may have set in; the same field can only be ploughed so many times. With some of the tracks being a couple of years old already, perhaps the band did indeed find themselves running out of ideas in the end as they remained focused on their ‘dream-state’ target. In short, Waking Lines may not always hit the mark, but for a debut effort it offers lashings of promise for Patterns’ future if they can either hone their songwriting skills or take a detour down the lengthy drone-pop street.