In my opinion, if you can’t get lost in the music you’re listening to, than it really isn’t worth listening to in the first place. Taking this mantra into account, it should come as no surprise that I instantly fell in love with the band Sleeper’s self-titled EP, released earlier this year through Woods & Ether Records.
It should be noted however that the phrase ‘band’ should be thrown around with caution. In actuality, Sleeper is the brainchild of California-native Paul Olsen, who recently returned to the limelight after a year-long hiatus from songwriting. Upon his reinstatement to the alternative genre mid-2011, Olsen tried his hand at various musical collaborations, before eventually branching off to construct a more contemplative solo project.
The result would be ‘Sleeper’, a lofty arrangement laden with layered instrumentation, haunting vocals, and provocative lyrics. The album opens with “Ice House”, a melodically infectious track which relies on jittery acoustic riffs and a chorus of playful whistles to propel it forward. Airy backing vocals grab wistfully at some unseen force in “Big Sur”, an evocative track that may seem almost familiar to fans of Justin Vernon and Ben Gibbard. Conversely, the skewed rhythms and time signatures of “Hillbound” and “Wishing Well”, both of which are complemented by a gentle, trickling lead, will effectively have your head spinning, and your ears aching for more. Throughout the album, Olsen’s lyrics remain concise, and his singing tender yet versatile, often times jumping from a spacious falsetto to a somber grumble with ease.
Considering the albums density though, perhaps the most impressive part of ‘Sleeper’ is the considerable lack of lag-time between Olsen’s return and its release. In just over a year’s time, he has managed to craft an album as instrumentally sound and lyrically rich as more established acts such as Bon Iver, and he didn’t have to lock himself in a cabin in Wisconsin to do so. It is without doubt that ‘Sleeper’ will become an anthem for the lazy winter days which are right around the corner.