"Everybody bears a cross, a heavy load to haul around. Let me be your albatross," folk-pop duo The Dream Eaters unload about the weight of an unsettling world and the universality of pain--on "So Heavy," a melancholic downtempo brimming with billowing harmonies. Jake Zavracky and Elizabeth LeBaron, who first met when both were bartenders in a Brooklyn dive bar, open their debut full-length with another glum observation: "Sinking ever downward, gasping for air, dead on the inside, stepping on landmines." We are a Curse towers with 10 tracks, on which the duo needle together reflections on self-loathing, navigating a swampy sea of complicated relationships and feeling the life forces morphing at their fingertips. "If you can't feel moonlight, I won't convince you it's real. Rivers winding in Brazil," they relay on their moody bookend, "Brazil Song."

And when they unleash the title cut, their message is evident: they hold themselves accountable for the things they've seen, the things they've done. "We suck young blood, leaving the bodies strewn on the ground," LeBaron and Zavracky spit on the opening lyric, surrounding the listener first with cloying atmosphere and then with a wall-to-wall wave of sound. "We are the curse. We are the worst," they later chant over layers of a rollicking marching band-like drum line, thick guitar and other synthetic accompaniment. Having formed back in 2015, they cemented their sound and approach with 2016's debut extended play, Five Little Pills, but they are finally now coming into their own, borrowing of new wave and synth-pop of the late '80s and early '90s.

Says Zavracky on how the album came together, "Even though we recorded We Are A Curse in about three months, it felt like it was years in the making; some of the songs are more than a few years old but arranging them for both of our vocals gave them new life. We probably demoed something like 75 songs in trying to get down to the ones that meant the most to us, which are the 10 that are on the album, and many of the songs that we ended up with were re-recorded 10 times over."

That extensive outpouring of blood, sweat and tears drenches the entire studio record. From "Neanderthals" to the acoustic swelling of "Dots" and the gritty echo of "Plastic Priestess," LeBaron and Zavracky chronicle chapters of their lives with fraught intensity. There is an unshakable sorrow adorning their vocals, but they remain luscious and sticky. Tightly knit harmonies characterize nearly every track--allowing them to utterly inhabit a ghostly world of varied human sentiments and encounters. "Sugar coma leaves me blind, sinking into that midnight," they coo on the lullaby-reminiscent "Sugar Coma," a particularly engrossing moment. Then, on "Almost Afraid," tinged with a Middle Eastern flair, they sojourn "across the river" to wait for you, their lover, and implore "let me slip away, find me by my light."

We are a Curse, which wades through the flooding waters of pop music to become one of the year's most arousing and provocative, drops everywhere this Friday (April 14). The album is up now for pre-order.


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