This review is a love letter to Sleepy Sun. I caught their live show last month and was impressed. But now, I've been listening to their album, Fever, over and over. I can't seem to take it off repeat. The arcing flow of the songs fits together just so, with dynamics that resonate with my mood and mind.
Much like their concert, the vocals are an axis for the songs to revolve around. Musically, they wander from one genre to the next without jarring. And the guitar work ranges from textured to intense.
But there are differences, too. Rachel Williams is still haunting and soulful, but on Fever, she also sounds sweet, playful, and breathy -- sort of Bjork crossed with Emmy Lou Harris (and a touch of Margo Timmins). Bret Constantino has a voice like worn corduroy, every bit as expressive as in the show.
Fever leads off with Marina, which starts out with an acid rock guitar line before settling into a lazy groove. Williams' voice is honey sweet. The layers of guitars are more subtle than the show, but more satisfying for that. The bridge section shifts the mood into a jungle beat of percussion before sliding back into the trippy groove again. It's a satisfying journey and a perfect beginning for the album.
Desert God, had a different feel than the live version. Sure, you could still imagine Jerry Garcia sitting in on the session, but the album version takes that idea and tweaks it to almost sound like a Gomez cover. Constantino even sounds a lot like Ben Ottewell in his tone and phrasing. More than that, the change leading into the second verse could easily be lifted from an early Gomez song. There are elements of Get Miles, Rie's Wagon, and Revolutionary Kind all hiding here. As the song drifts from section to section, it isn't a rip-off or even a tribute. It's more like Sleepy Sun is channeling the same musical signal.
The only misstep is Freedom Line. Despite the loose vocal rhythm, the mechanical drum groove doesn't fit the album. The sudden acid jam at the end is in character for the album, but doesn't really flow out of the song. That's a minor gripe because the closer, Sandstorm Woman, slips back into the pervasive lazy psychedelia of the album. A great set up for starting the whole thing over again.
Pour me a glass of the Reverend by Avery and I'll just let the music roll over me. Hugs and kisses to Sleepy Sun -- thanks for the jams. Fever is officially due for release on June 1 in North America (May 17 in Europe).