Sleep In With Settling

If you go to the bandcamp page for Sleep In.’s full length “Settling”, there’s a slight review halfway down the page that says the following: “This shit’s got beats. This shit’s got a dude singing his heart out his ass. This shit’s got some dope ass guitar trickery. Cop this shit because it’s actually really f*cking good.” And really, that heartfelt comment alone should be enough to get you to hit the play button right next to it.

But if you’re still on the fence, let me be the one to convince you: Sleep In. is an indie-emo outfit worthy of your attention.

Based in New Jersey, and self-described as a “handcrafted rock and roll” band, Sleep In. is a 5-piece whose signature sounds lie somewhere in the swirling depths of indie-emo meets post-hardcore. The problem with being in any sort of emo / hardcore sounding band these days is how easy it is to just become part of some sweeping generalization for the genre. Play it too old school and you’re automatically thrown in with the comparative likes of 2003 Taking Back Sunday and Brand New, but playing up the modern side of teen angst and pop-punk hardcore relegates you to being “just another” Alt Press cover band, sandwiched somewhere Patty Walter’s next youtube cover and the latest The Story So Far LP. Depending on what generation of emo-core you subscribe to, none of those above really seem like bad company to be surrounded by – but when it comes to carving out your own name in the scene, such simplifications about whom you are and what you’re about can be frustrating to say the least.

I will admit that on the first or second listen, Sleep In.’s first feature length “Settling” gives the impression of sounding like what would happen if Taking Back Sunday and Death Cab For Cutie had a music baby who’s just about to come to age. But give the record a few more spins and so much more comes out of the woodwork – there is an undeniable sense of skill, maturity, and sensitivity that shines through both lyrically and musically that many other acts seem to be lacking in comparison. Just over half an hour long but well balanced through and through, “Settling” displays a sense of familiarity to the genres the band subscribes to without falling into the pit of well, being generic.

a0497980032_16Settling works as a cohesive album but is less strong when it comes to identifying an immediate stand out tracks – the album’s opener “I Do Know and I’m Not Sorry” probably comes to closest if anything. Thinking back to Scot Moriarty for a moment, it’s immediately apparent that he wasn’t kidding – this “shit’s got beats [and] some dope ass guitar trickery” indeed. Lines like “go ahead and take your best shot / you haven’t seen the best that I’ve got / but I think I’m gonna need a head start” play close to the emo / hardcore conventions, but forgivably so.

Tracks 2 and 3, “Sleep Sound” and “Streets” begin a more subdued approach into the record and more or less blend into each other. This is not necessarily a week point, as both are impressive in their own rights, especially in regards to the delicate composition of each instrument.  Most reviews will (rightfully) flaunt praise for the guitar work, but overlooking the drums on track 3 is a serious misstep. “Streets”, for the tightness of the drumming alone, is worth revisiting a few times. This being said, I can happily admit that Track 4, “Bound To Fold” is the one that won me over. This is easily the most sensitive track on the whole record, and definitely one of the more introspective ones. On its own, it wouldn’t be the first song I’d recommend to someone listening for the first time, but play the record through and you’ll notice it perfectly nestled between both halves of the album – a welcome respite between the heavier sounds later to come.

Moving on, “Small Scars” is a title that often pops up in other people’s recommendations, with good reason. The track highlights a more musically versatile side of Sleep In. – though it starts off with some pretty good indie rock chops, the latter half of the track seamlessly moves between each of the band’s other styles. “Antisocial Darwinism” leans towards the heavier side, but is in my opinion a bit more forgettable than the others, especially as it blends into track 8, “A Lot to Say”. It isn’t until halfway through track 9 “Come Closer” that the record really grabs your attention again. Remember the review that praised Sleep In.’s lead singer for “singing his heart out his ass?” – this is probably the track that convinced them of that. “Starting Over” returns to a more familiar pop-punk sensibility and is probably one of my personal favorites overall.

As the eponymous final track of the album, “Settling” is a great album closer in that it plays like a direct composite of every single element leading up to this part of the record Every single piece of the band gets a moment to shine be it drums, guitars, or vocals, although it does somewhat fade out with more of a whisper than a bang.

Essential Tracks: “I Do Know and I’m Not Sorry”, “Bound to Fold”, “Come Closer”, “Starting Over”

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