When listening to Art of Sleeping’s second extended play, I can’t help but be brought back to the times I spent lying on that massive hill at the Lorne site of Falls Festival as Fleet Foxes played in the background. I’m also transported back to the first time I heard Bon Iver’s debut record For Emma, Forever Ago and my first spin of Grizzly Bear’s latest album Shields on vinyl.
I’m sure you can grasp why.
Art of sleeping, as an indie rock band, combine all the things we love about these folk artists but manage to keep it fresh.
This young band from Brisbane, surprise surprise, join a slew of bands forming that scene, including heavyweights such as San Cisco, Dune Rats and Millions. Their first EP Colourblind was well-received and the lead single of the same name managed to rack up over 400,000 plays on YouTube.
What Art of Sleeping did on their latest EP, however, increased the complexity and depth of what they did with their indie-folk pop songs. Well, in some parts anyway. There are some real gems on this EP but also a couple of disappointments.
Opening track Empty Hands is a fantastic piece of indie rock, starting with Eastern guitar tones and a rolling drum beat that enthralls you from the moment the track begins, before crashing into fervent and tense guitars clashing against what was a soothing melody. The two melodies continue to remain dissonant from one another until the track’s ultimate climax upon the final chorus.
Following that is the pulsing tone of Shoulders, which is largely piano-driven and draws me back to a jazz-rock band called The Reign of Kindo, who release quite similar stuff. This is a great thing. The minimalistic nature of the track begins to contrast beautifully with crashing verses in order to build suspense for the large part of the track, until the band proclaim that they “don’t want to fade away” in what could be considered a reference to the overcrowded Brisbane indie scene.
An acoustic edge is brought to the EP within the title track. Lyrically Like a Thief is anthemic as the track builds up to yet another crashing high. This is what irks me a little about this EP and the large part of the music this band release. Everything seems to be very formulaic as you get to the later parts of the recording. And it leaves you wondering if there’s any more to come form this group.
Even second single Above the Water follows a similar pattern to the rest of the EP; however, with less originality. It feels as though this track stands out against the rest of the EP as it’s lyricism is more clichéd and lyrically poor compared to the previous tracks. One Hundred Thousand falls in a similar place, lacking anything that we haven’t already been beat over the head with on the other tracks in the EP.
In short, Like a Thief starts with real promise, but falls short towards the end of the EP, which I find quite worrying. If the band are getting tired towards the end of a five-track EP, they’re not quite ready to record a full LP by any means. Maybe the recently announced tour will give them a chance to cement their ideas.