REVIEW: Teen Idle’s ‘Insomniac Dreams’ captures the feeling of running through a sunflower field on a summer’s day

REVIEW: Teen Idle’s ‘Insomniac Dreams’ captures the feeling of running through a sunflower field on a summer’s day

If I wasn’t a fan of shoegaze before, I sure as hell am now. Sara Barry, a.k.a. Teen Idle, perfectly encapsulates the feeling of a warm summer’s day in her recently released 6-song debut EP ‘Insomniac Dreams’, combining ethereal vocals with airy-sounding guitars and even an unexpected dose of organ synths.

‘In the Morning’ is the perfect dream-pop punch to set the tone of the album. The song starts off softly, almost a conversation between the vocals and the guitar, before crescendoing with a steady drum beat that emits 90s grunge undertones – look out for a flannel-clad fanbase with this one. ‘Sometimes’ is both dreamily and effortlessly cool, with Barry’s voice carrying like a cloud in a breeze. The instrumentals serve to compliment rather than overpower the angelic tones, creating the melancholic and jovial juxtaposition of the melody. 

‘The Haze’ is a standout, piquing interest from the first few notes. In line with the nature of the album thus far, the track commences with stripped back vocals that allow for the storytelling to take front and centre stage, highlighting the playful range of the singer’s depth. Whether it was the intention or not, it’s a perfect amalgamation of the eras, evoking 60s, 70s, and 80s ballads whilst simultaneously channeling the spirit of Mazzy Star’s ‘Fade Into You’, giving me nostalgia for periods of time I wasn’t even alive for. My only wish for this song is that more people hear it, be it to sit on your bed and cry alone to, or as a fitting title track for any would-be indie coming-of-age movie.

‘Dreaming’ is tranquil, with the comforting effect of herbal tea after a stressful day, but ‘Love is a Matchstick’ is where the EP regains momentum with a slight shift in tempo that gives it more of a pop edge in comparison to its counterparts. ‘Memories’ concludes the work on a more somber note, but with echoing vocals that seems to single out the words as if being sung in a large open room to you and you alone. 

In a genre that can too often risk similarity in songs, Teen Idle manages to give each track a distinguishable voice through the unique experimentation of melodies and instrumentation, with stellar results. You can listen to the EP here, with 100% of Bandcamp profits going towards the Movement for Black Lives.

Favourite song: The Haze

Favourite lyric: Sometimes I wish I could go back to the start 

Rating: 7/10

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