| Wow. So, I hadn't heard the Sleeping before getting my hands on Questions And Answers. Since then, I've gone back and listened a bit to their previous release, Believe What We Tell You, because I just wanted to hear more. Yes. They're good.
I took on the album because it seemed pleasing at first glance; as it turned out, my first impression was spot-on. The album's a little bit all over the map, stylistically, but that's not to say that the band hasn't found their own sound yet--they've done that. Rather, they haven't settled on just one musical focus... or should I say, they've branched out, since their debut was definitely more formulaic. Either way, it makes for a dynamic listen; I'm reminded of the genre-defying Blue October. Like Blue October, The Sleeping is a band that really is best-defined as alternative, not just because it's counter-mainstream rock, but because it's experimental--not devastatingly so, mind you; The Sleeping is not the band to turn to if you want math rock craziness or bizarre testing out of obscure instrumentals. They're just many-flavoured; the songs are distinctive, which, in my book, is a great thing.
Parts of the album (no entire songs) are screamed, but I didn't find it distracting in the least. All too often with full-on screamo bands I find the music unintelligible; one roared chorus sounds just like the next. But here, you've got just snatches of screaming mixed in with smooth vocals... in a song that begins with a possibly-shoegaze-influenced bass-and-keyboard intro? Awesome. Their sound is really a good thing--sometimes the vocals wax a bit repetitive, but for the most part, Douglas Robinson's voice is a damn good thing.
I've got to say, I was impressed with the lyricism and themes too. Granted, it'd be hard to go wrong with the strong instrumentals and vocals, but the songs themselves are excellent in their own right. Listening to the actual words of "Who Stays Behind" is creepy in a good way, and the (although I am loath to use this word) diction of "Loud And Clear" is compelling, and communicates the desperation of the song quite clearly. "Heart Beatz" is likewise well-written; interesting tidbit, but out of context, "Heart Beatz" didn't strike me as the greatest song title in the world, until I learned that the song is an homage to the late John "Beatz" Holohan. I'd already taken a strong liking to the song (if not the title) before finding that out, and once I did, the song just became that much meaningful for me. Wicked cool.
Questions And Answers is a great album. I like this band, and I like the direction they're taking things in. Compelling, distinctive music--bravo, Sleeping. So I say, give "Heart Beatz" a listen, for raw excellence; or "3 Cigarettes," "Dearest Mistake," or "The Big Breakdown - Day 3 (The Escape)" for examples of the fine lyrics. Then, if you like it (and I think you will), go and listen to some more. I fully recommend it.
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| QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
<< 1) Don't Hold Back >>
2) Loud & Clear
3) Heart Beatz
4) The Climb
5) The Big Breakdown - Day 3 (The Escape)
6) King of Hearts
7) 3 Cigarettes
8) Who Stays Behind?
9) Listen Close
10) Dearest Mistake,
11) Better Than Anything Else