The Sleep’s debut album has many elements that make a great record, for me: a specific mood, melodic delivery of said mood and attractive sonic candy.
On my first listen to Never in a Million Years, I noticed how I had been listening to instrumentals for quite some time before hearing any vocals–for about 6 minutes in fact. I understood immediately that The Sleep lays emphasis on ambience, vibe and sonic texture. When lead vocalist Laura Smith sings for the first time in “Never”, I was pulled in deeper into their aural territory. Her vocals are not in the forefront of the mix, but instead blended with the rest of the entourage making it seem like she’s an added texture to the song, and not necessarily the focal point.
This doesn’t mean her melodic contribution and contemplative voice aren’t worthy of attention, in fact, it’s quite the contrary. Her voice is commanding with a touch of sweetness, reminiscent of Beth Gibbons in Portishead, but with more absolution. Haunting and hypnotic are what comes to mind when describing what i hear.
Track 5 “Take Me” is one of my favorites on the album. The taunting phrase, “is it worth it?” made me second guess what I had been doing at the time, as if the song were talking to me directly. I remembered this wasn’t a voice on my head, but a song I was listening to. Powerful stuff.
I look forward to where The Sleep will take me next, I’ll be along for their next hypnotic ride.