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.