Dream pop's ethereal nature gives each artist who dabbles in it a unique presence. Such is the case in Katie Kim's third record Salt.
Katie Kim's no stranger to creating folky, ominous atmosphere, and it shows throughout Salt. Kicking off the record is 'Ghosts,' a sparkly and expansive track with wallowing and sparkly synths fillings its cavernous composition. It's creepy as the title should suggest, the echoing drums moving drearily and slowly as if the song itself was a ghost taking one slow, gentle step at a time. This isn't a poltergeist; it's a lost soul looking for another chance. This same dreariness is a large part of the latter half of the record, with tracks like 'I Make Sparks' and 'Life Or Living' functioning off the slow moving swells.
What the album really does well, as is to be expected from Kim, is build up some emotion. The song 'Day Is Coming' is perhaps the least optimistic track on the record, the guitar somberly playing under Kim's sweet but defeated melodies. Defeated, hopeless vocals find a powerful home in dream pop, and 'Day Is Coming' takes advantage of that. Pretty, haunting strings support Kim's poetic lyrics, that eerily chant: "I'm bleeding but I'm healthy, it's aesthetic... I am carrying a torch but with the right eye, I cannot see / Take me to the answers, I'm the one who's listening / I'm the only one that knows about your scars." The track finds astute beauty in a couple's emptiness, filling its melancholy space with dramatic, almost cinematic instruments.
If this album could capture that raw emptiness that 'Day Is Coming' had in more places, it would've been phenomenal. The sad part is that it falls short of reaching a particular height of emotion. Dream pop is not meant to be expansive and invigorating; it's a genre that thrives from emptiness. Katie Kim channels a lot of sound and vast atmosphere in this record. Sometimes it works, and other times it doesn't. There are songs like 'Beautiful Human' that channel emptiness and atmosphere wonderfully, whereas tracks like the ending song 'Wide Hand' feel empty without anything to show for it.
Katie Kim has the ability to make something of hopelessness, but at times it feels like it loses direction of that. Salt wallows in own pessimism, hopelessly trying to find something to cling on to. That's the essence of dream pop, but unfortunately there is a lack of balance in the instrumentals to really channel that. The keys are there; perhaps the next album will pick them up.
Favorite Tracks: Day Is Coming, Beautiful Human
Least Favorite Track: Wide Hand
Rating: 78 / 100