Sleep Talk got our attention in 2017 with the release of “New Tradition”. The single’s impressiveness landed the Adelaide based band on our list of ’10 Releases We’re Anticipating in 2018′, keenly hoping to hear more from them! Remaining quiet for 2018 though, it was only with the release of the single “Everything In Colour” early this year that we saw Sleep Talk shrug off their cocoon of silence and start to reveal their new era to come. From the darkness of their Growing Pains EP comes Everything In Colour; Sleep Talk’s debut album which lands this Friday (3rd May) via their new label home UNFD.
Unsure what to expect of the album, I went track by track through it, taking in what Sleep Talk had created. Album opener “Lauritzen” has sweet nostalgic riffs to open as well as chugging bass, and vibrant screams from vocalist Jacob Clement. Shifting gears, a pulse quickening pace draws the listener into discomfort and an impactful moment. The final lyric “I fucking suck at goodbyes” seems to wrap everything together. At just 2:36, it comes across as poetry/thoughts set to music than a song.
“The Sun” seems to continue the thoughtful/nostalgic vibe, and lyrically hints at a fading connection. Gentle melodies and harmonies make this track dreamy and reminiscing… until there’s a crushing collision of drums and screams, leaning into what seems like desperation to stay together. This peak continues to bleed out until the very end. I took “What if the sun swallowed me whole and I don’t get to grow old?” as intense fear of how life works without the other person being there, but I could be wrong.
The album’s third track “Slowfade” talks about ‘saying goodbye’ also, which made it seem like a flowing continuation of the songs before it. The zig zagging guitar vibes as angsty awkwardness; of wondering what’s happening within a relationship. Building tension with bass purrs takes us into inevitable separation; it’s a literal ‘slow fade’.
In listening to the track as well as watching the music video, I wish I’d been a fly on the wall of the creative brainstorms or ‘what if we…’ conversations that Sleep Talk might have had. A white car’s journey sees it decorated with paint and sunflowers, before dirt and smears happen, and we finally see a burnt out shell of a(nother) vehicle. I appreciate the album artwork being brought to life, I am still a bit like ‘Why, Sleep Talk? Why?’.
As I continue to curiously move through the album, there’s further continuations/similarities between songs, and I’m wondering if they’re deliberate or just emotional themes that have been spread across separate musings. The colours ‘bleeding out from my heart’ of “Slowfade” exist too in the album’s title track (“Bleeding out for the world to see”). For what is an engaging and catchy song, “Everything In Colour” draws us down into whispery and dark self-reflection that sparks growth.
The arrival of “If I Die” as some kind of dark anthem is a surprise on the album. Lyrically tying into colours again, the purity of “If I Die”‘s clean, sparse, and pleading moments is in blatant contrast to the gang vocal solidness of the choruses. I’m instantly (maybe obviously) reminded of the 27 Club: A series of musicians that died at 27, including Jim Morrison of The Doors, Jimi Hendrix, and Kurt Cobain of Nirvana. For me, “If I Die” hits most movingly at around 2:38 where its funeral march of heaviness (reminiscent of Trophy Eyes‘ “Miracle”) cracks the sadness factor wide open.
“If I die at 27, don’t put me to rest”
Despite having listened to “New Tradition” now times infinity, in the context of Everything In Colour, I see the track as more insight into the concept of what ‘sleep talk’ is/might be, as well as being a snapshot of life and watching it all go by. The dance between the jogging pace of the ‘verses’ and the circular vibe of the choruses is really enjoyable, as is the sense of suspension (and the bass!) before falling into “Sell myself to you, sell my soul to this”.
“New Tradition” offers a sense of alarm and discomfort – albeit a catchy one – as things continue to move forward. But as seems to be the norm with Sleep Talk songs, I’m left with more questions than answers. Like what was the literal new tradition? Did they change it after they realised they were selling their soul? Is this about making music? Why does everyone return to the room with the sunflower in the video? Tell me more about the dreaming?
With my metaphorical reviewer hat forced back on, I’m seeing these unknowns as us being shown fractions of a story or situation with as much ambiguity as needed by those creating it. “New Tradition” is palpably aching as well as beautiful.
“Shadow” was another surprise of a track for me on Everything In Colour; not expecting the sound that came from it at all. Semi-twanging and monotone for the most part, “Shadow” vibes as sombre reflection and taking responsibility, for better or for worse. For another short piece of music, the track carries a lot of emotion, especially as multiple voices join in at a cliffhanging last section of the track. A bitter pill of self-blame sticks in my throat as “Shadow” ends.
Chugging and punchy “Allergic To The World” inspires a swaying sea sickness in its sense of being gripped by the scruff and thrown around by life. The ultimatum sense of thickness in this heavier track (courtesy of progressively building drums and escalating volume and intensity) is easy to get swept up into.
Naming a song as your band name is an interesting choice by a band that’s been around since 2015. “Sleep Talk” is aimlessly acoustic at first before heading straight into a melodic guitar story shared with screamed vocals, punctuated at parts by rhythmically blasting out. Vocal/lyrical savagery couples with an easy melody, seeming like shame has spiralled into self-hate; literally a casual walk turned into a momentous event of regret. As expected, there’s nothing to be expected, including a line-drawing verse at the song’s last 30 seconds.
Easy, relaxed and chilled, “The New Year” starts with drum tapping nervousness. See, I re-read that sentence and recognise that sounds like a contradiction, but it’s not. It’s just Sleep Talk in a nutshell, who seem very skilled at combining contrasts and defying expectations. Seeming to tell a story of connection and magic, I recognise and appreciate the reference again to colours. In contrast to earlier takes of fading connections, this song came across like a new one and the dazzling rush of sparkling intensity.
“Kill” as the longest song of the album comes across like closure, or at least a desperate attempt to let something go. I really wasn’t sure how to take this song at all. For a lyrically murderous song, it’s catchy enough to get stuck in your head, especially the ’round’ style of singing toward its end. There’s also sweet guitar solo/moments on the track, as well as a slowing down which paints a heavier emotional scene, despite the song retaining an ease about it, alongside “Dark thoughts in the night screaming ‘kill, kill'”.
In retrospect, I probably should have heeded the retro TV screen styling of the album artwork and taken Everything In Colour as something akin to constantly changing channels. Each song could be seen as a very short slice of life, seeming like flips through a book of poems and brought to life with the colour of music. Perceived ideas of verse-chorus-verse kinds of structures are mostly disregarded, with the story/poem seeming to be the anchor to the whole piece.
Sleep Talk’s stories come packed with emotion; so much so that I wish I understood more about the inspirations behind them. It was for this reason that I spent a lot of time stuck in curiosity through my reviewing. I just didn’t want to miss anything that was attempted to be shared. Maybe these small and semi-ambiguous short cuts are all we get; brief open doors to very real moments in life.
Sleep Talk have created an album without being contained by structure or genre, and the result is something one-of-a-kind. The album comes across as the result of a creative collective with joining threads of colour and connection..
As mentioned within the review, I sought to understand the songs and their lyrics, even though I feel Sleep Talk have made them ambiguous for individual interpretation/enjoyment.