One of the main criticisms of dream pop is that at its core, the music has to be repetitive by nature, always grasping for the small palette of sounds that can be read as hypnogogic all the while valuing aesthetic presentation over substance. Although there have been exceptions to the rule, like Robin Guthrie using the Cocteau Twins as an experiment in drum machines and proto-shoegaze, most dream pop ends up passing by without much notice. Red Blinders, the latest EP from Swedish indie pop outfit Hater eschews most of the homogeneity that plagued their earlier work for a welcome evolution. Closing track “Hater” apes the anorak sound of the mid-80s C86 scene with Caroline Landahl’s languid vocals pushed to the forefront of the mix all while two dueling guitar leads jangle away. The guitars battle for instrumental supremacy while Landahl tries to compartmentalize her own emotional anguish. “Rest” finds Landahl exploring her own vocal range, appropriating an adolescent whine reminiscent of Diet Cig’s Alex Luciano at her least cloying, to a surprisingly pleasing result. The true standout of the EP comes in the opener “Blushing” which apes Teen Dream-era Beach House with cleanly picked lead melodies. In the meantime, punchy percussion drives the track along with surprising momentum, preventing the lead vocals from getting dragged down by a sluggish rhythm section. While Hater is still most definitely trying on many different hats to figure out what their true style may be, Red Blinders is positive proof that most anything is a good look for them and that their future is bright.

-Ben Noble