Those familiar with Paulina Cassidy’s ephemeral dreampop as heard on albums like 2014’s Sugar Wingshiver might find that her latest album requires some adjustment. Recorded under the “Polly Fae” moniker, Dreamwalkers still lies squarely in the ambient/dreampop spectrum, but Fae’s sonic palette is darker, sparser, and more harrowing.
Fae’s music has always been otherworldly. However, there’s something particularly spectral about Dreamwalkers, as if her instruments themselves are the ghosts, and Fae is simply summoning them together to create her haunting music. As such, it might take a little longer for the album’s spell to take effect, but take effect it almost certainly will.
When Fae sings “Open the door, let us in/We wait for you to let us in” (“Let Us In”) in a near-whisper against shivering electronics, it feels less like an invitation than an evocation. Later, she sings “We are watchful/We are in the trees” against piano filigrees on “The Dreamcatcher and the Owl” in a manner that’s as disquieting as it is comforting.
“Spaceman” features some of the Dreamwalkers’ most rapturous lyrics, but it’s so minimal that you have to strain to hear Fae’s voice. On this song, as well as on album highlight “Carry the Spell,” her hushed music brings to mind — or perhaps, given the album’s nature, “conjures” is a more accurate term — visions of Liz Harris (Grouper) fronting an electro-pop outfit like Mus or Lost Balance.