Ah, nostalgia. Nothing tugs at the heartstrings quite like it. There was something kind of carefree about 90s rock music, or perhaps the music just evokes memories of a carefree time. Either way, tunes that have gobs of distortion and breezy melodies automatically transport me to memory land, and it’s usually a super happy place. Sleepy make nostalgic pop music, jacked up by monstrous amounts of fuzz guitar and urgent, restless drumming. It’s a combination that was put to great use by bands like Dinosaur Jr and Teenage Fanclub in the 90s, and, two decades on, the three-piece prove that it is still the perfect formula.
Although their name might suggest otherwise, the debut self-titled EP from Sleepy sounds like a dishevelled, guitar-wielding giant.
Their brand new self-titled EP is their first since putting out their Demo collection mid last year. The tracks introduced the band and their lazy, slacker pop vibes. Featuring the dual boy/girl vocals of Martin Trew (guitar) and Sarah Enright (bass), their music is driven by melody, utilising their congruous vocal styles to create almost dreamy textures. The first ten seconds of the EP are some of the most ear-grabbing I’ve heard in a while.
From the start Sleepy smack you in the face with waves of distortion that become pretty relentless throughout the proceeding ten minutes. This isn’t a bad thing. The trio have the ability to bury the heaviness of their music beneath layers of melody so that the distortion becomes almost like background noise, beefing up the other elements of each track, but never becoming overbearing.
Track one, The Ride Up, is pure 90s grunge pop with walls of gooey fuzz guitars and sunny melodies. The vocals are immediately striking. Trew has got this laid back, nasal twang to his voice that reminds me of J Mascis. The dual vocals are perfectly balanced, husky, but not dainty or brittle. Jay Whalley from the legendary Freznal Rhomb lent a hand producing the vocals. “We recorded a 7″ with Jay last year and he was great to work with so we were keen to go with him again for the EP. He has a really good ear for vocals and got the harmonies sounding nice,” said Enright.
Sea of Blue and Strange Things take a more languid approach, using dark guitars and discordant vocals to create a sense of melancholy. However, the bands’ pop sensibilities are never far away. When a song teeters on the edge of taking the darker route, the band reign it, sliding in the odd major chord or a blisteringly sunny solo to remind us that they are a pop band at heart. Hardest Part takes off with a piercing riff before bulldozing into two minutes of restless drumming and jarring guitars, plus one of the catchiest chorus hooks of the year.
If the energy of the band’s debut EP is anything to go by, their live show should be a raucous guitar party. Be sure to get down to Brighton Up Bar in Sydney this Saturday to catch their EP launch. Tickets are only 5 clams.