REVIEW: Sleep Decade – “Spilt Ink EP”

Sleep Decade have a unique and “experimental” (in the loose sense of the term) take on indie rock. Their infusion of unconventional rhythms and layering, mixed with the comfortable and familiar elements of dramatic indie rock that other bands have already paved the way with, really sets them out there as a band that can keep you interested, without pushing your boundaries too far. Which is a good thing. Granted, there are artists that push musical boundaries and conventions a great deal, and some are amazing artists, but it’s refreshing to have something so different that’s so easy to enjoy.

Casey Hartnett’s emotional lyrical content resonates easily without being complicated, and without being so obvious as to feel condescending or clichéd. One of the marks of a great lyricist is someone who can tread this fine line. Hartnett’s vocal style compliments the dramatic changes in the music itself. Moving between the emotional crackle of someone on the brink of tears, to biting frustration and longing, Hartnett’s vocal style is not only unique but fitting.

“All I Want” is a perfect example of Sleep Decade’s use of extreme and dynamic shifts in pace and tone. Beginning with only a guitar riff and Hartnett’s wavering and uncertain vocals, the song takes a turn around the 2 minute mark and launches into sections of racing percussion and vocal extremes.

“Spilt Ink” closes the EP, but its soft-spoken delicacy is both a blessing and a curse. It juxtaposes with “All I Want” nicely, and it’s contrast like this in EP’s which can really draw you into a band. But unlike the other songs it doesn’t feel like it has a musical progression. The acoustic guitar lines feel like they drag on, and even though the whole EP sounds like it’s had more heart and soul poured into it than you would expect, unfortunately “Spilt Ink” just doesn’t feel like it’s executed properly. It doesn’t hold interest like the other songs.

This is a forward thinking band who set themselves apart from the pack, and I get the distinct feeling that they create their music on their own terms, and don’t pander to the whims of critics, or try to imitate the style of established bands.

If I’ve drawn any conclusions about Sleep Decade, it’s that they do things differently. And when it pays off, it pays off very nicely. From the anthemic chorus of “All I Want” to the softly-spoken “Mexico On My Front Porch”, this EP is close to brilliant.

Verdict: Positive.

Grab some tracks off the EP here.

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