Survival Guide Deliver 'deathdreams'


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Survival Guide Deliver 'deathdreams'

(Reybee) "Over the last few years, I've had a handful of dreams that involved my own death in various ways, and they've all been profound for me," says Emily "Agent M" Whitehurst, vocalist of indie electropop outfit Survival Guide, about the themes of her own demise encircling her fourth full length album deathdreams, out today (October 19, 2023 via Double Helix Records). "Because of this, it seemed natural to call the album deathdreams after this theme. I like the opposing imagery and feelings those words can conjure. I like how dreams can be interpreted as soft, sweet, or strange and death as dark and ominous. These descriptors fit various songs on the album as well, so it seemed like the right title for the collection."

Produced by Bob Hoag (Dear and the Headlights, The Ataris, The Format) at Flying Blanket Recording in Mesa, AZ, the songs on deathdreams range from chillingly eerie rhythms ("Stay Dead"), to a '70s-styled secret agent spy theme ("Sharpshooter") to a melancholic piano ballad ("I'll Picture You"). At times a darkly sonic and emotional hand grenade, and others a sparkly shimmering rainbow of rich melodies and textures, deathdreams is a tour de force that showcases the breadth and depth of Whitehurst's songwriting, lyrical imagery, and vocal fortitude. Far-ranging in its topic matter, the album touches on the themes of anxiety ("wordswordswords") and the dangers of societal influences ("Bad Little Seed") coupled with Whitehurst's dreams about dying ("Lady Neptune"). "My favorite kinds of albums are the ones that take you places and have a song for every mood, so that's what I made," she says excitedly.

Led by the first single "Blood Perfume," Whitehurst found herself writing from the perspective of people or entities (such as social media, religion, an emotionally abusive partner or family member, politics, drugs, etc) that can "turn negative" when we allow them control. "Not that all those things are inherently bad," she adds, "but we can be so easily manipulated sometimes, and we don't even know it's happening. I love how the feel of this song turned out very ominous but also dry and straightforward." The accompanying music video is a short horror film involving a serial killer who gruesomely dispatches the body. Following the release of "Blood Perfume," Whitehurst released two more singles with epic, action-packed videos in preparation for the album release. The first, "Lady Neptune," references a dream she had involving a chaotic battlefield, full of people fighting and killing each other. In the dream, Emily was struck with the knowledge that if she drowned herself, she'd come back to life and emerge from the water with the power to stop the fighting. Although her newest single ("Pie") isn't literally about pie, she uses the imagery to embody a Stepford Wife gone rogue, evoking an exaggerated version of a 1950s baking show. While she is dressed like the perfect "Betty Draper," the lyrics to the track, on the other hand, feature a vivid metaphor ("Let me bubblewrap you / Hide you from his eyes"), as she reveals herself as a protector, wishing she could prevent younger women from enduring the dark things she's been through as a woman, herself.

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