Various Artists: Cherry Stars Collide: Dream Pop, Shoegaze, and Ethereal Rock 1986-1995 (Cherry Red)

In 2016, Cherry Red released a boxed set entitled Still In A Dream, a multi-disc set that chronicled the formative years of the shoegaze scene. It served as a great introduction to the genre, even if debates raged about who should (and should’t) be included. The label’s now released a sister compilation entitled Cherry Stars Collide: Dream Pop, Shogeaaze, and Ethereal Rock 1986-1995. This set examines the softer, poppier side of the alternative rock genre known as dream pop. 

If the template for the music Still In A Dream was My Bloody Valentine and underground rock, the guiding star for Cherry Stars Collide is 4AD Records and The Cocteau Twins. Unsurprising, then, that 14 of collection’s 66 songs are from 4AD artists. The sound is instantly recognizable, too: cool vocals (often female) over hazy, slightly psychedelic melodies and an overall dreamlike quality—it is called dream pop, y’know.

Plenty of highlights abound here. It’s nice to have the 4AD version of Frazier Chorus’s classic “Sloppy Heart” single on CD. The Cocteau Twins’ “Iceblink Luck” shines through the murk and melancholy of the Eternal and Julee Cruise songs that surround it, a blast of happy, joyous sunshine that sounds fresh 32 years after its release. It never would have occurred to this writer that The Ocean Blue would be a dream pop band, but their brilliant “Ballerina Out Of Control” certainly doesn’t feel out of place here. Saint Etienne’s “California Snow Story” features a vocal from Sarah Cracknell that’s so gossamer thin, you really have to listen to hear them. For Against’s “Today Today” is a more rock number, but its melancholy lyrics are a delight.And Lycia may be more goth than dream pop, but their offering here is most certainly chilly and dark. Also, don’t miss the offerings from Swallow, Smashing Orange, An April March, Love Spirals Downward, and Mazzy Star.

In fact, you shouldn’t miss out on any of the songs offered here. 

If you were a fan of the genre back in the 90s, then Cherry Stars Collide plays less like a genre exploration and more like four wonderfully produced mixtapes. If you’re new to the style, this collection will give you a good sampling of the wide variety to be found in the genre. Either way, Cherry Stars Collide is a superb, essential, and enjoyable compilation. 

Purchase Cherry Stars Collide: Cherry Red

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