September 28, 2010 - Victory
Long Island, New York’s the Sleeping incorporate a vast array of influences and borrowed sounds on their fourth album, The Big Deep. There’s a little bit of the Cure’s Robert Smith in vocalist Doug Robinson’s delivery on “Oh, Gloria,” but they toss in cello and rumbling drums for bonus drama. Near-metallic guitar distortion kicks off “Dark Days,” but the weirdly stifled drumming and emo-ish vocals, balanced atop a fuzzed-out bassline, make the anger feel unearned and not quite convincing. “Beautiful Gloom” throws new-wave guitars (think the Cars) and a white-reggae break into what would otherwise be a typical MTV-ready angst-rock song. But the album’s title track has some excellent jazzy chords that lead to a semi-anthemic chorus; it’s like two different songs glued together with good intentions. The band’s general moodiness is supported by a mix that’s heavy on reverb which makes everything sound like it’s playing over a breakup scene on an episode of Friday Night Lights. The keyboards are particularly impressive in this regard, sometimes droning in a way that’s melancholy and yet soothing, and other times creating insta-grandeur. The Big Deep is a very good album that is hard to pigeonhole. In a time when far too many bands are playing by the rules of one sub-sub-genre or another, true uniqueness is encouraging.